It’s Day 28 and I’m reviewing our last film from the 2000s, which is [Rec]!![Rec] is a Spanish film that was later remade into Quarantine, but they’re both found footage movies and… I don’t like either one of them.
I have to be upfront: I just don’t like found footage movies. The gimmick quickly wears thin and I grow impatient as the filmmakers constantly come up with new excuses for a person to be recording what’s happening instead of just abandoning the camera and running away (like any normal person would do). I also get annoyed at the characters on-screen yelling at the cameraman. That seems to be a huge staple in these kinds of movies, and only exaggerates the generally poor acting that is typical in this genre. It also distracts and reminds you that you’re watching a movie and totally takes you out of the moment. [Rec] is certainly no different, and when I heard, “GET THAT CAMERA OUT OF HERE,” about the 100th time, I wanted to throw my remote at the screen. And that’s not even counting all of the ways they have to cheat the footage to provide cuts, because, after all, they’re not actually going to do any of this in real time despite what the commercials say. Oh? What’s that? A character in [Rec] wants to check out the footage we just watched so we’re literally going to see it being rewound and then played again? Awesome. You know, for a movie that’s not even an hour and half, that feels like a great way to pad the time (while wasting more of mine).
Even La casa muda, while not a found footage movie, used digital techniques to hide their cuts so that the movie appeared as one long shot. It’s similar to what Hitchcock did practically in Rope, so it can be done, and I think these movies would work so much better if they did. I mean, I guess they could always do it for real but then it might turn out as boring as Russian Ark, so maybe that’s not such a great idea, either.
Then there’s the cinephile in me who wants the cinematography to serve the story in a meaningful way, with a variety of beautiful shots instead of this nausea inducing, shaky-cam garbage. I get it. It makes it seem real and raw and in your face. But it’s a freakin’ movie!! We know it’s fake and you don’t have to give us all motion sickness just because you’re trying to (over)act like it’s not. I didn’t like it in Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project and I don’t like it in this movie. If you read my review for 28 Days Later, then you know my disdain for crappy, digital video. Think of how beautiful and atmospheric this movie could have been with the right cinematography.
The basic plot of [Rec] is that a television reporter is doing an extended report on firefighters and tags along with them on a call to a local apartment building. It’s not long after they arrive that the whole place is quarantined by a government agency and they’re all trapped inside as a zombie-like apocalypse begins to happen, with any dead residents coming back to life and attacking the living. Yes, it’s a found footage zombie movie (or is it a found footage movie about demonic possession? I’m not sure). And yes, it is claustrophobic and frightening in key places. Admittedly, this could be due (at least in part) to the found footage approach, but again, it wears out its welcome and is much more of a con than a pro.
But [Rec] is also an extremely slow-burner of a film, with nothing really happening in the first hour, and then everything sort of crammed in the finale. I did enjoy the night vision during this end sequence, and it did remind me a lot of the similar scene in The Silence of the Lambs, but not nearly enough to make me enjoy the movie. I’d say avoid this one and its many sequels (as well as Quarantine and its many sequels). But if you must watch this movie, please, please, please don’t watch the English dubbed version. It makes the gimmick even worse because the voices don’t match the characters at all and it comes across as horrendously bad (and laughable) due to the huge disconnect.
Tomorrow, Kelley will be back with Hammer Films’ The Woman in Black as we start our last decade of this year’s 31 Days of Horror!!