09 February, 2009

[Rec] (2007)

Dead scary

The horror cinéma-vérité sub-genre is enjoying a whole new lease of life. A concept that was originally set in motion by The Blair Witch Project (1999) and which, after an absence of nearly ten years, has already been well-served recently by fake documentary flicks such as George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead (2007) and Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity (2007), and in 2008 by Matt Reeves’ and J.J. Abram’s Cloverfield (2008).

Spanish director Jaume Balagueró (along with co-director Paco Plazo and writer Luis Berdejo) steps into the fray with [Rec], and praise be for that – Balagueró’s earlier films, such as The Nameless (1999), Darkness (2002) and Fragile (2005) pushed back the fear factory’s boundaries, expertly blending traditional ghost story elements with far, far worse concepts.

And the concept here couldn’t be simpler: Ángela (Manuela Velasco) is a TV reporter shooting a documentary series on firemen’s night work. Answering a routine rescue call to an apartment building, the crew find themselves in hell when the alleged rescue-ee starts chowing down on one of the rescuers. With cameras rolling (and thus the audience’s perspective assured), the crew and residents must find a way to survive the zombie outbreak when they find themselves quarantined inside the building by the trigger-happy military.

While the monsters may be almost perceived as traditional, a horror ethos suitably informed by the brilliant work of George A. Romero, the approach is anything but - the experience is akin to spending a night in a haunted maze, with stuff-of-nightmares images and a veritable flood of chaos, claustrophobia, and ‘Oh-my-dear-God-NO!’ moments, culminating in what is perhaps the most terrifying ‘resolution’ ever filmed.

In an astounding development, a poor Hollywood remake, Quarantine (2008) has recently been unleashed – do the world a favour and see this, not that, capisce?

Awards: Click here for details.

85 mins. In Spanish.

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