Already quickly remade by Hollywood producers, [REC] takes the reality TV concept and combines it with the conventions of a disaster movie and horror story. This is a film that delivers everything the much-hyped Blair Witch Project failed to.
Many will doubtless dismiss this Spanish film as just another handheld horror, but that would be a mistake. One of the most authentic and gripping genre films of recent years, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza’s experimental 75 minute feature is more than just Cloverfield without the blockbuster special effects.
The slim storyline involves television reporter, Angela Vidal, and her cameraman, Pablo (actually cinematographer Pablo Rosso) who are filming a programme called While You’re Asleep in which they observe the night shift at a Barcelona fire station. There is very little in the way of excitement until the firemen are called to help an elderly woman in distress in a block of flats. It is at this point that events become chaotic, terrifying and confusing, the team obsessively capturing every possible moment on camera.
This isn’t a film you watch, it’s one you experience. Sharing the camera’s point of view, Balaguero and Plaza’s aim was to involve the viewer. Unlike Blair Witch’s found footage concept, there is not device to detach the viewer. The concept and idea behind the title is that this is an event unfolding live and we are the camera. the witnesses. We are recording the experience and it is one we shall not forget.
Featuring a great performance from a cast mostly unknown even in their own country, and led by real-life presenter Manuela Valasco as Angela, [REC] is a true modern classic that should find a broader audience on DVD than it did on its limited cinema release.