foreign films

Made in: Spain
Language: Spanish
Director: Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
Starring: Manuela Velasco, Pablo Rosso, Ferran Terraza, Jorge Serrano, David Vert, Carlos Vicente, Maria Lanau, Claudia Font, Vicente Gil
Year: 2007

Synopsis: Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) is a perky, attractive, and slightly annoying TV reporter for a Barcelona-based reality show called While you're Sleeping (Mientras Usted Duerme). The show involves Angela and her cameraman, Pablo (Pablo Rosso), as they document typical work hours of people who work during the wee hours of the night.

While covering a group of fire fighters, Angela and Pablo tag along when the firemen are called to an apartment complex where an old woman has reportedly locked herself in her place and in possible need of medical attention.

The call seems to be routine, but soon the situation turns deadly when the old woman inexplicably (and viciously) bites a police officer (Vicente Gil) on the neck.

Suddenly, the building is sealed off by the authorities with little explanation as to why. The story (told entirely from the point of view of Pablo's video camera), takes a dark twist as Angela and the building residents find themselves in the midst of an apparent zombie virus outbreak!

As the people become infected one by one, Angela and Pablo uncover the terrifying truth behind the whole ordeal...

The Good: The documentary-style camera makes the horror of Rec more realistic and thus more scary, which is exactly what the filmmakers wanted to do. Although movies like The Blair Witch Project have done this already, Rec executes this method successfully.

At less than 85 minutes, the film is short and to the point. The actors all do a good job, and there are some genuinely scary moments. The bloodshed is pretty gross, but not to the point where it becomes an all-out splatter film. Fortunately, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza concentrate on giving us genuine thrills.

The Bad: I could not imagine seeing this on the big screen. The shaky camera work certainly gives a realistic feel, but it's likely to give many viewers motion sickness. Watching it on DVD was enough to give me a headache.

A few plot holes might be bothersome (such as how the zombie nonsense started), but I'll see if they get answered during the sequel. Also, after witnessing so much carnage, I found it unrealistic that Manuela Velasco's character would keep her composure the way she did, or that they'd keep going back to dark, creepy apartments where zombies were likely to jump out.

And finally, hearing the F-bomb being yelled in Spanish got pretty irritating after a while.

Who would like this movie: This one's for you if you like foreign films and are in the mood for an entertaining and well-executed indie horror movie. Although the documentary style approach isn't anything new, it's utilized effectively.

The zombie theme has manifested itself in innumerable ways, so even if Rec is a competent thriller, it doesn't do much to rise above the genre.

This was remade in the US as a film called Quarantine, and its direct sequel, Rec 2, is now available on DVD.

(2 and 1/2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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