It’s time for Spain’s entry in Horror Month 2009!
Written By: Jaume Balagueró, Luis Berdejo & Paco Plaza
Directed By: Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza
Beyond my own reaction to a given film sometimes the best way to gauge the quality of a movie is by how the people you are watching it with react to said movie. I started out watching [Rec] by myself, but I was shortly joined by my roommate’s son Zach, then I was quickly left alone again. He didn’t leave out of frustration or boredom, he left because he was scared. Zach is usually able to sit through any horror movie I throw at him. His reaction to [Rec] lets me know that it was scary, and that is but yet another positive to laud upon [Rec].
I’m always late to the party, that is one of my many “things” that I do that make me a loser as a film buff. I was late again with [Rec], despite loving horror and hearing all kinds of great buzz about [Rec] I managed to not see it until well after its hype has died down. I think in a way this may have helped me, because by this point the hype is but a distant memory and that allowed me to go into the movie with a clean perspective. I was also helped by a couple of fellow Filmspotters chiming in recently with less than positive takes on [Rec].
The hype had died down and my enthusiasm had been dampened, yet minutes after the DVD started up [Rec] began to engage me and I never looked back. Even in the one weak moment in the film, the sudden turn of Jennifer, I wasn’t bothered. I realized how contrived and convenient that moment was, but I didn’t care. The people behind [Rec] made that moment work because of the obvious energy behind this production. I have no doubt that everyone involved had fun in the making of the picture, it translates onto the screen at every turn.
[Rec] is full of great moments and I don’t just mean the horror moments. The beginning is handled really well, those first few minutes of normalcy offset what is to come and lay the groundwork for the scene that will infuse the film with oodles of tension. I was happy to see the film go back to its TV interview style near the middle, they were small interviews but they helped the buildings residents appear real. Not only that, it provided a needed break in the pacing, a sort of calm in the middle of the storm if you will. Horror wise the final thirty minutes are one great moment after another, but the one moment that stands out in my mind is near the beginning of the film when Álex splats on the ground from out of nowhere. That was the moment when I knew I was going to really like [Rec], and all the following moments helped me fall in love with it.
The point of view camera style that so many films now employ requires some acceptance from the viewer. Either you can accept the conceit that someone would continue filming in a scenario such as the one found in [Rec] or you think there’s no way anyone would be stupid enough to keep the camera rolling. I had no problem accepting the point of view style in Cloverfield and the same is true with [Rec]. I am willing to accept the conceit behind the camera’s presence, but I also love how Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza use the camera. It is used as a weapon at one point, as a source of light at other times and as the only begetter of vision near the end.
Something else to pay attention to in [Rec] is the wonderful sound design. It’s most noticeable when Joven first unloads his gun and the hallway is filled with a cacophony of sound. Keep listening after that though, because whether it is the moments of silence or when the audio on the camera flitters in and out, [Rec] remains consistently fresh in its sound design.
There isn’t much of a story to [Rec], but there doesn’t need to be. A group of people are trapped in a building and the information given to the audience is bare bones enough so that we are clued into what is going on but can’t really question the reasoning behind it. From start to finish [Rec] presents an energized and streamlined horror experience, and I don’t hesitate to say that it is a movie I am happy to have discovered, no matter how late I was to the party.