I finally saw what’s almost unanimously considered an excellent Spanish horror movie: [Rec], the 2007 film directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (I recently saw Verónica directed by the latter and I must admit that it didn’t impress me) with Manuela Velasco. Long story short, I liked [Rec]! Here’s my two cents on it.
The film belongs to a couple of genres. There are infected people (not zombies: the infected run, zombies don’t) so it feats into the same genre of the excellent 28 Days Later (2002) by Danny Boyle and its decent sequel 28 Weeks Later (2007) directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. At the same time, [Rec] is also a so-called found footage film, that is a movie presented as if it were discovered film/video recordings made by those who actually lived the facts, like The Blair Witch Project (1999) and George Romero’s Diary of the Dead, also released in 2007 just like [Rec]. This second genre unfortunately is home of a lot of garbage, but I’m happy to say that [Rec] is not garbage at all. Obviously, in some cases the scenes are a bit forced and make you wonder why the cameraman continues to shoot despite what’s happening. But in this case things work, both because in the film the cameraman is, according to the story, a real camera operator working for a Catalan TV channel (the movie takes place in Barcelona), and because the “forced” moments are few and far between. Thus, I would say that the found footage gimmick works well.
So the movie works because everything seems real-ish, and also because the level of tension is always well-maintained. There are scary moments in abundance (the scenes in the dark are spectacular and are actually shot in complete darkness, unlike those featured in Don’t Breathe by Fede Álvarez), and there are many interesting plot elements giving us an idea of what’s happening but without excessive explanations (a bit like the great George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, 1968). Basically, we understand that there’s an interesting background, but the movie also lets the audience imagine what’s going on.
The movie was extremely successful, as proven by its three sequels (the last one came out in 2014) and the US remake (Quarantine, 2008) which I refuse to watch (why should I do that? The original is so good!) and of which I recognize the existence out of pure pedantry.
[Rec] is a cool movie. It’s certainly a must-see, especially if you like horror movies, and the zombie / infected sub-genre in particular! Ciao!