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


Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I was rather disapointed by this film but then thats probably because I have seen Cloverfield and nothing will ever be as good as that film was. In general REC was actually fairly scary but there were too many weak points in it, such as points where the infected victims simply did not come across as being convincing and also several points where the camera very obviously pulls away from the action because the makers did not have the ability to show something properly (eg hammer crushing someones head). The final 15 minutes of the film more than made up for it but then right at the last moment it was ruined by having it all "fade to black" and then a repeat of the reporters voice saying "We must film everything Pedro" which completely destroyed the notion that it is an authentic tape! Its a shame really as it could have been better....but it is certainly worth seeing.

Anonymous said...

You both make good points, but also MISS the point a couple of times.

1. The shouting of "what's going on" may be obvious to us, we KNOW what's going on. Angela and the other characters were less informed. And Angela in particular, I think the desperation in her voice made some scenes very effective in building tension.

2. A "real" TV cameraman may well shy away from filming someones skull being smashed in. I don't think it's "very obvious" that the filmakers lacked the skills to be more graphic at all. In my opinion, it added to the feel that the tape was authentic.

3. The cameraman's name was Pablo, not Pedro.

Atomic40 said...

If I were Pablo I woulda dropped that fuckin camera and picked up a weapon. Great flick though!

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smarterhug said...

I'm not entirely sure why you hail Cloverfield as a good horror flick. I couldn't get through half of the movie without looking away...and ONLY because the camera was shaking so much that it was giving me motion sickness, not because of anything going on in the movie. And it wasn't just me, my friend as well as other people in the theater were forced to put their heads between their legs to try and avoid the overwhelming feeling of nausea. On top of that, it had a completely unexplained ending. I know it didn't really have to have an ending since it's one of the "handicam" movies, but still... I would have liked to have some closure.