Wednesday, 9 April 2008

[.REC] Review

Yup, it's time for another "found footage"-style movie. Well, it's already been about 3 weeks since the last one... Cloverfield was truly awesome - one of the best cinema experiences in recent years, and properly lived up to the hype. I never saw Diary of the Dead, which was unluckily pipped at the post by said monster movie to be the first "FF" movie of the year.

And now [.REC] comes along. Unfortunately, over here and in America it's always going to be seen as "that other handi-cam movie" - yet this was out in Spain last year. It has a brilliantly simple premise; late night TV presenter Angela and her camera-man Pedro are doing an article upon firefighters, they meet some firemen, and get called out to a building where there seems to have been a spot of bother... soon, they're trapped under quarantine, with talks of a virus outbreak.

I've seen a fair few zombie movies, from fun-but-trashy Resident Evil to the impressive 28 Days Later, but none have quite instilled terror into me the way that [.REC] did - simply put, it's terrifying. The format works well, and it's a nice touch to see characters telling Pedro to stop filming, giving an authenticity to the style. There's a decent build up throughout, with tension being amped and amped until... about 45 minutes in, everything explodes into action - running, screaming, shouting, blood, zombies, the whole shebang. By the way, that's all before the lights in the building stop working... At only 72 minutes long, it's an incredibly undiluted experience. There's no chance for filler, no time for a breather once it gets going, and this works heavily in it's favour. All action is decidedly frenzied and realistic, the camera getting shakier the more scared Pedro gets. It's all very authentic.The final 15 minutes or so of the film are real edge-of-your-seat, fist-in-mouth, hide-behind-the-cushion, ending with a horrific final shot that will linger in the memory for days to come.

There are a couple of weaknesses - the middle section of getting to know the people in the flat occasionally gets tiresome, and because the audience already knows that it's a zombie movie, the shouting of "what's going on?!" also begins to grate slightly.

But these are minor niggles in one of the best horror's I've seen, and certainly one of the scariest. Make sure you catch it this week (it's only on limited release) before the Americans go and balls it all up with the remake "Quarantine" due out later this year...

Genre Value: 4.5/5
Entertainment Value: 3.5/5
Style: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5