Julio Fernández’s [REC] was shrewdly made as the symbiosis of two newly blossoming types of movie, the found footage format and the zombie genre. It was made at a time when the found footage format wasn’t derided and the zombie film hadn’t reached complete saturation. You can tell its age just from the fact it doesn’t have a name you can hashtag (go ahead, try hashtagging [REC]).
Though given the time of its birth [REC] remains a unique and terrifying experience. The key element is the setting. The grubby tower block allows for plenty of places for the zombies to hide and spring from, and the tightly packed populous of the building means a shock never feels crowbarred in.
The setting also allows the story to harness a well-used mechanism of the disaster movie, the ever decreasing ‘safe space’, to great effect as well. As the characters are forced into different parts of the building and further upstairs, the tension is ratcheted up as the lower floors are increasingly flooded with the monsters.
Thanks to clever use of lighting and Pablo Rosso’s cinematography the corridors and apartments of the building are used to good effect for some striking imagery. Be it figures that can’t be identified as friend or foe down a corridor, or the eerie lights of strangely acting emergency services outside, much like Dredd, this singular setting never gets old, just claustrophobic.
Manuela Velasco is also fantastic as the protagonist TV presenter Ángela Vidal, and while she emits an awful lot of screaming, it never becomes irritating. It’s also her very palpable sense of panic and empathy that really sell the situation, especially the horrifying finale which stands as the single most terrifying sequence this reviewer has seen.
[REC] is a classic in its time. Get it.
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