REC, which spawned the near shot by shot American remake, Quarantine, is by no surprise the superior of the two films. The gore is more bloody, the zombies maintain an empty and ghostlike aura, and most importantly it makes the most of its mockumentary epidemic capabilities. It’s not necessarily the most fun movie of its kind, and isn’t quite as good as some of the hype surrounding it would suggest, but it gets its message across through the medium.
The film opens on Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco), the host of the late night news show, “While You Were Asleep.” Alongside cameraman, Pablo (Pablo Rosso), she interviews local Barcelona firefighters to report what an average night for them is like. At first things are fairly uneventful as they learn there’s a lot of waiting around. When they finally get a call, they just barely get in the fire truck in time. They get to the apartment where there is reportedly an elderly woman that needs help getting out of her apartment. There are cops there, which makes Ángela question if this is more serious than they thought. The lady they came for is seeping with blood and attacks a police officer and a firefighter. Both of them are in critical condition. They are loosing so much blood that without professional treatment they will die soon.
Everyone inside the apartment complex is trapped though. Authorities have closed all of the exits, concealing everyone inside. They discover that this is the same measure taken for biological disease threats. Every one is in a complete panic, desperate to know what’s going on but not given any answers when or if they will ever get out of this building. As more people become infected with this vicious beast like disease the threat and desperate need to escape only gets greater. Ángela and Pablo are determined to capture everything on tape even though many of the police men try to stop this as this is not information that they can allow to be disclosed to the public. Soon there is little hope of any of them coming out of this alive let alone getting the footage out to the world. Still, they don’t give up on covering the crisis and uncover a more bizarre truth than they bargained for.
The biggest difference in content between REC and Quarantine is the ending. I won’t give either away for those who might not have seen one or either of these films, but the ending in REC adds a turn that seems more true to the horror genre. It’s more compelling in my opinion, but the real difference seems to be that it seemed more authentic and intriguing while in Quarantine it was just reasoning for the events that happened early to exist. The beginning in both films is similar as well. In Quarantine the amount of time spent on the firefighter documentary made it drag and got me disinterested far too quickly. There was a decent amount of focus on the fire fighter coverage in REC as well, but they didn’t seem to dwell on it for so long and made a much smoother transition in to the outbreak.
Overall, the acting was pretty good here, but if any one performance was questionable it was the lead, Manuela Velasco. At points she can get pretty annoying and get in the way of letting you feel for her character. This had to do with some of the excessive dialogue that was given to her character. There was one moment in particular where she kept on yelling to Pablo asking what was going on. They had been closed off from what was happening and clearly weren’t welcomed to film what was going on behind that door. However, they found a way to do so. The moment they got caught their camera could have been confiscated, they could be pushed further in the dark, or they could have been more directly exposed to the infected. Yet, Ángela keeps on screaming over and over again. When they begin uncovering the truth of this night, Ángela is as panicked as ever freaking out about the lights. Not being able to see what’s around you when zombies are around can be unsettling, but she is the only one that seems this excessively hysterical. I felt more for Pablo as he was much more reserved and kept a good grip on things. Most of the tenants I found to be very realistic and just like normal people going through a terrifying epidemic.
The gore in REC is top notch. There’s a good amount of blood and the make up really helped the infected look completely inhuman. The young zombified girl in the film succeeds in being farmore creepy than any other demented child in recent horror films. The zombies themselves added a great eerie tone to the film and throughout their soulless expressions suggested that they were going through something more than any of them could fathom at the time.
REC isn’t necessarily a great film, although it is a pretty solid one. There are some good themes of governmental control and lack of understanding of those who are meant to protect. The story itself is decent, but somewhat forgettable. Where it really shines is how it utilizes the horror mockumentary style to divulge its message. We only see through Pablo’s camera lens. When the camera is stopped, we are no longer seeing what is going on. We want to know what is happening just as the character’s knew the public would. They think everyone should know what is happening and the film displays what not knowing, what being distanced from information and truth can do. These are moments when our characters are in danger; when the truth needs to be seen more than ever. Police men tell them to turn off the camera a few times, but this actually makes sense because it’s part of their job in following the orders that they are given. One of the tenants supports their shooting as her husband is outside and if she never sees him again at least he will know what happened from a first hand account rather than whatever the police claim occurred. We don’t get the same sense as other similar films where the characters scream this message whether than creatively weaving it in to the film. REC puts the home video shaky cam style to good use and is a film that optimizes it to make a strong point about how vital knowledge can be.