Friday, March 19, 2010

Pose Reviews A Movie. #5: REC (2007)

Holy crap it's awesome.

Sorry to be so blunt. But it had to be said.

Yep, this Spanish-made, self-soil-inducing throrror (read: thriller/horror) is a veritable cinematic gem for the scare-hungry, and by far one of the most terrifying at-home movie-watching experiences I've ever had.


REC (whether you've decided to pronounce it phoenetically as "wreck" or acronymically as "arr-ee-see") is a welcome rebel to the horror genre. It doesn't rely solely on "cheap scares," where music or sound effects are played REALLY loud to accentuate a scary face or grabby hand, nor does it take the gorey route, measuring its scare-factor in litres of fake blood. Nope, REC takes the high-road--it uses a poorly lit, incredibly creepy environment, coupled with inspired costume and makeup choices that grab hold of your nerves and yank them relentlessly for 78 terrifying minutes.

But don't let the phrase "poorly lit" throw you--the lighting is actually one of the greatest aspects of the film. Without giving too much away, REC is a film about the tenants of an apartment complex who are sealed inside their walls by authorities to prevent the outbreak of a disease that is making some of the building's residents behave...well, "oddly."

The film is also a member of the "found footage" genre that started with The Blair Witch Project (1999) and continues today with movies like Cloverfield, which means that standard cinematic conventions like contrived lighting or underlying music can't be used without undermining the film's entire effect.

This is why the lighting in REC is so impressive.

The lighting serves to contain the action, mirroring the film's overall theme of containment. While the residents of the Spanish apartment complex are held captive inside their building, the viewer's attention is held captive by the camera's lighting.

In other words, the lighting in REC makes only certain elements of a scene visible, which not only adds to the suspense, but also mimics the feeling of containment possessed by the characters in the film. And because the whole movie is made to look like amateur video footage, the confined lighting fits right in.

You get the feeling of "Oh man, I can only see the one spot where the light is pointing--what's going to come out of the dark?!" instead of "What the hell, I can't see a thing--who shot this movie?!"

The bottom line is, the lighting doesn't make the film difficult to watch--it only enhances it.

(And also, you'll probably have to see it in order to understand what I'm talking about.)

But it's definitely, DEFINITELY worth seeing.

The only concern I have is for people who have seen the North American remake, Quarantine. I watched REC again with a friend who had seen the Hollywood do-over first, and he said that REC was more well-made, but not as scary for someone who has watched Quarantine. In essence, Quarantine is a carbon-copy of REC, just without subtitles. So I worry that if you've watched the remake, you might not be as enamoured with REC as someone who hasn't watched it.

But even then, you might just enjoy the experience of watching a horror film done right. I know I did!

Look for REC in the Horror: Euro section, or on Andrew's Staff Picks shelf.

1 comment:

tom s. said...

Yes indeed. Pretty damn scary.