You know how sometimes you just get giddy? That silly feeling you have when you just can't stop giggling and are unable to wipe the smile off your face? Combine that with being scared out of your mind and almost jumping out of your skin and that's how the Spanish horror film [rec] left me. You know what's coming, you know where the story is going and you even know when it's going there sometimes, but all the while your teeth are clenched, your face is wincing and your hands are gripping tightly onto whatever is closest. And it's way too much fun.
Not that you need too much set up for the film, but it starts out with Angela on screen. She's a TV personality who does fluffy pieces for her show "While You Were Sleeping" and she and her cameraman are going to follow a fire fighting crew for an evening to get a glimpse of what a typical shift is like. After some scenes at the fire station, they receive a call about a woman who has apparently fallen and is screaming. Angela and the cameraman hop aboard the fire truck, proceed to the scene and enter the building with the paramedics to find out what has happened. The entire film is shot from the vantage point of the cameraman with the edits happening only when he turns off the camera. It's a difficult trick, but highly effective if done right - you need to convince the audience that there's a reason to keep filming when all logic states that you just drop the damn camera.
The residents, firemen, two policemen, cameraman and Angela all become trapped in the building when it suddenly becomes quarantined from the outside. No one tells them what is happening and they are struggling to find out as they need to get medical attention for one of the police officers. You see the old lady they went to help suddenly attacked him and began to bite him ferociously.
And so it goes from there...With no music and just the sounds of the building (thumps, crashes, creaks, etc.), the remaining people try to survive while those who get bitten end up like the old lady. Since you only have the single perspective of the cameraman, you're forced to experience these things in the same way he does. And it's immediate, sudden and damn scary.
I had initially thought coming out of the movie that there was no way that the American remake (called Quarantine) could possibly match the intensity of this film - in particular the last half hour or so. I'm not trying to purposely generalize that all Hollywood remakes of foreign horror films must by definition be bad, but, well, let's just say there's some precedent. However, looking at the trailer for Quarantine (on bottom) again, they may be trying to match [rec] (on top) shot for shot:
Of course, that makes the existence of Quarantine even more pointless, but I've given up worrying about that battle. I just hope they don't screw it up...The other interesting thing is comparing the two trailers - the American one gives so much more away while the Spanish one leaves a great deal of mystery about what is going on. The best trailer, though, is one I posted about before (where all you see is the audience reaction).
That trailer shows that it's the kind of movie you really should see with an audience if possible in order to share that communal experience of laughter as release of tension, so hopefully Quarantine can match [rec]. Even better would be [rec] hitting the screens here, but as long as it makes it to DVD I'll be satisfied. Because everyone needs to feel giddy like a little schoolgirl sometimes...