In Barcelona, reporter Ángela Vidal and the cameraman Pablo are covering the night shift of the local fire station. When the firemen receive a distress call from a lady in a building, Ángela and Pablo go in the firefighter truck with the firemen Manu and Álex with Pablo recording each step. When they arrive in the building under siege of the police, they find the hysterical dwellers gathered in the lobby in the entrance and they hear screams upstairs. Manu and Álex go upstairs with two policemen and followed by Ángela and Pablo, and they find an aggressive old lady that attacks one policeman. When they return to the lobby, they find that they are sealed in the building and trapped with the residents at the beginning of a chaotic and nightmarish night.
If you want an extremely quick and breezy horror movie that still manages to pack quite the terrifying punch, look no further than Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s REC, a film that wastes absolutely no time in getting you sucked into the atmosphere. The opening scene of the film is just lead protagonist Ángela Vidal talking to the camera about her and her cameraman Pablo about to document a local fire department. But even though this monologue seems simple and non-harmful, not only do we know that that can’t be the case, even just the way the film looks (cold, dreary, bleak) give us hints early on that this is not going to be some walk in the park. This is going to be chilling.
A lot of this film focuses on sheer paranoia and the creeping panic that slowly starts to settle in for each and every one of the characters. Some people may go into REC expecting some straight-up creature feature or something, and if you do go into it with that mindset, you’re most certainly going to be extremely disappointed. Go into this film with the knowledge that it’s a claustrophobic horror-thriller and you’ll be in for a treat.
REC is never the type of movie that lets you off easy either. Just when you think that maybe things are starting to look up for one character, you start to realize that it is only going to get far worse from there. It’s definitely one of the shortest horror movies out there, but surprisingly, I don’t think it needs a longer run-time.
Because everything is just so air-tight and because the film moves relentlessly, it feels like it has the perfect runtime. Each passing scene gets more horrifying than the last, with the ending being genuinely goosebump-inducing for me. That’s coming from somebody who loves horror and has seen more horror movies in their life than any other film genre.
What’s also surprising is just how much they were able to do with such a relatively small budget. Although the budget of $2 million sounds like a lot, when you compare it to other studio horror flicks of today, it’s not that much. The makeup department in particular that worked on this film deserves so much praise. There are certain scenes throughout the film that would not have been nearly as impactful had this makeup team not worked on the film. Their work was truly amazing here.
A lot of people like to rag on found-footage horror movies, especially if they contain a lot of shaky-cam (which admittedly this movie has too much of), but the sad thing is that not a lot of people have seen REC it seems. And if you are one of those people that have yet to see it, you definitely should seek it out immediately. For horror fans or newcomers to the genre alike, this is an excellent watch.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: R for bloody horror violence and language
Distributed by: Filmax
Release Date: November 23, 2007
Running Time: 78 minutes