[Rec] (2007)

<strong class="MovieTitle">[Rec]</strong> (2007)

(On DVD, December 2009) Now that Rec has been remade for American audience as Quarantine, you may think that there’s little reason to seek out a small-budget foreign horror film.  But there’s a reason why Rec was chosen for remaking, and the original film remains a strikingly effective piece of horror cinema.  Another first-person camera chiller, Rec proceeds from the elegant premise of a TV camera crew following firemen for a slice-in-the-life fluff program and then getting trapped in a building as increasingly disturbing events occur.  As this meticulously-paced film advances, we come to realize that the situation has escalated all the way up to a claustrophobic zombie thriller… and it just keeps getting worse.  Manuela Velasco is magnificent as a ditzy reporter stuck in an impossible situation, but it’s really co-directors/writers Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza who deserve the credit for a slick horror film that knows exactly what it’s doing: the bright clean cinematography is gradually stripped away, and the conceit of the filming camera is handled with a great deal of cleverness.  There are shocks, there is a growing sense of dread and the terrific final images are strong enough that they were co-opted for the entire American remake’s marketing strategy.  It’s nothing short of a perfect treat for the horror fan, even those tired of the current zombie craze.  If you can manage it, try to see Rec just before Quarantine for an instructive comparative lesson in how a lot more money thrown at a premise doesn’t necessarily result in a markedly better product.  The Canadian DVD contains the film in Spanish, French and English, but few other extras.

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