Friday, November 6, 2009

Film Review: [•REC] (2007, Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza)

Stars: 4.4 of 5.
Running Time: 80 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge Serrano, Vicente Gil.
Tag-line: "The movie that inspired QUARANTINE." Now, that's just depressing.
Best one-liner: "If this is a pain in the ass, just cut, okay?"

I thought I'd had it up to my ass with the shaky-cam horror genre, but then a little flick like [•REC] comes along and impresses the hell out of me. This is lithe, efficient storytelling at its best: after an uneventful introductory sequence (which is more about lulling you into complacency than seriously developing character- but here, that's okay!), the film begins a headlong, breathless sprint into the unknown, and there's some pretty scary shit at the end of the line. It's an extremely visceral film, never quite terrifying you on an intellectual level, but relying quite effectively on base fears of the dark, things that bite, confined spaces, and the volatile combination of all three.

[•REC] has studied up on the 'Boo!' genre, dispensed with the humor and social commentary, and while there's nothing new here exactly (except perhaps the 'Spanish' spin on the zombie movie which invokes Catholic mysticism in a roundabout way), all the present elements work exceptionally.

[•REC]'s all about moderation, in a way, too– we're kept in the dark, in infrared night-vision, and in the midst of screaming and chaos for just long enough- none of these elements (which can be grating an elongated context) wear out their welcome. It all builds to a finale that is genuinely terrifying, unnerving, and worthy of the hype- and it does all of that with a real, live actor, not some poorly-rendered CGI cartoon. Finally! I feel as if this is the proper cure for the zombie fans who immediately started gagging when CGI deer turned up just five minutes in to I AM LEGEND. Gahhh.

Anyway, alongside INLAND EMPIRE, I'm prepared to call this the scariest movie of the new millennium. Even the bland, embarrassing heavy metal blaring over the end credits couldn't put a bad taste in my mouth.

-Sean Gill


1. [•REC] (2007, Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza)


Anonymous said...

Paranormal activity.

HKFanatic said...

Glad you enjoyed [REC]. I just watched it for the first time back in September or so and I was blown away. It easily earned a place among my top zombie films. I'm a sucker for anything that gives the illusion of being done in 'one take,' and [REC] was full of so much beautifully-orchestrated chaos. It's a cliche to say that a movie takes viewers on a 'rollercoaster ride' but if there's any film that gives you that same sense of momentum followed by expertly-paced peaks and lulls, it's [REC].

And the last 10 minutes are pure, grade-A nightmare fuel. Talk about a mindfuck, especially if you happened to be raised on a steady diet of Catholicism or Protestantism as a child. :D

Sean Gill said...

Yeah, I was really surprised by how much I liked this. And Anonymous, I do intend on seeing Paranormal Activity soon.