A film I should’ve watched sooner is REC. This Spanish found-footage horror from 2007 absolutely blows so many others like it out of the water. What makes it so brilliant is its terrifying realism. The whole thing looks like it takes place in the middle of a war zone, and its unflinching nature takes no prisoners whatsoever. I was a huge fan.
When a documentary crew go behind the scenes to share a glimpse of a night in the life of a fireman, they can’t guarantee that they’ll be able to actually go on a shout with them. However, when an incident occurs at a local apartment block, the crew tag along, but get far more than they bargained for.
REC nails documentary-style filmmaking
Found-footage is nothing new when it comes to horror, but it’s not always done as well as it is here. REC plays back like news footage from a battlefield. Erratic movements and glimpses that prevent you from fully taking in the horror somehow render it considerably worse. Of course, I’m not just talking about how the film is put together. We don’t often get a glimpse into the world of firefighting, or at least it’s not covered as often as other emergency services. For the film to start here made the documentary aspect feel even more plausible.
Plausibility and realism was not something that REC struggled with at all, engaging documentary subject or not. The whole thing was utter pandemonium from start to finish. Of course, considering the events at the heart of the film, that’s not unsurprising. What lets down many films of a similar nature to this is that they’re too polished. They don’t always manage to achieve the right levels of panic that something like this would bring with it. With REC, this is not a problem at all. There’s the screaming and the shouting, finger-pointing over whose fault it all was and someone trying to take charge of the situation but failing miserably. Every single type of person in a crisis made an appearance here, and it meant things reached boiling point very quickly.
Performances also added to the panic
All of the actors exuded fear. Their movement was manic, and the breathlessness – especially towards the end of the film – was horrendous. It was very easy to believe that these people were fearing for their lives more and more with each turn the story took, making the film an adrenaline-fuelled nightmare for the viewer. It reminded me very much of the Resident Evil 7 with how I felt watching it. The sense of foreboding provided by the performances was unbearable on many occasions, but I loved that. It’s one of my favourite things horror films can do when they’re done well!
The final ten minutes are a prime example of this. REC has a tight runtime of 78 minutes and doesn’t waste a second on anything but the good stuff. Obviously if the film had lacked a finale that was a tier above everything else, I would have felt short-changed. Luckily, it didn’t. It was, instead, the highlight of the film, and perfectly in line with everything that had come before. The thing is, REC sets the bar very high for itself as it becomes clear quite early on that everything can only really end one way. Because of this, the focus shifts more to how it will reach this conclusion, and what the specifics will be. What we get in the end is a totally nerve-shredding closing sequence that is every bit as terrifying as all that led up to it.
This is a fantastic film
I cannot put it any better than that. It gets to where it needs to be quickly, and doesn’t let up after that. If you need a metaphor to paint a picture, the best I can do for you is to say that it’s like a tornado – it rips through and throws you around, but the devastation left behind afterwards is the true sign of how monumental it all was. Highly recommend!