Friday, August 26, 2011

Double Feature Friday: [REC] (2007) / [REC 2] (2009)

A news segment about a reporter following a local Barcelona group of firefighters on their nightly routine suddenly becomes documentation of some kind of outbreak of some contagious disease that causes people to become rabid killers.

[REC] is one of my top 5 favorite horror movies of the past decade. It’s essentially a zombie movie – but it’s far more thrilling than the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake because it’s told from a first person point of view. It blends what feels like news footage from a war zone into what’s simply a claustrophobic zombie experience.

Throw in the intrigue of how quickly the building is quarantined and the intrigue into what mysteries are being hidden and where – the film works on a variety of levels for both thrills and on-the-fly narrative. The direction of the film must have been tricky – as you would have to have your cinematographer running around as a character – and monitoring the adlibbed both camera movements and dialogue – it’s an easy recipe to fail at for someone who didn’t have a big pair of brass balls. The lead actress is likable and convincing as both a fluff news reporter – and as a terrified as she becomes as the situation unfolds.

[REC] was remade almost shot for shot in the US and released as the film QUARANTINE – I beg you to SKIP that version and go straight to the source.

Nearly an hour since the events in [REC] a swat team is sent into the quarantined building along with a priest to find out what’s going on.

What [REC] succeeds at – [REC 2] tries to tweak only mildly. Each swat team characters has a helmet camera to monitor what they see – so there are multiple cameras at work as opposed to the single camera in [REC]. Then it takes what the audience perceives as the rabid zombie virus and turns it on its ear – which is hinted at toward the end of [REC] – but even if there was never a sequel – one could be happy with the direction of the first film without this film as an addendum.

[REC 2] does more story telling than the first film – it leads the audience down a certain path instead of spinning them around in an office chair and dropping them into a mess. So, in a way they are two completely different films – but the same concepts were being used as story telling elements. I do admit that the freshness of the first film doesn’t come off as well into the second – but I think that has more to do with the storytelling in the second – which is understandable – you have to change the formula a bit for a sequel to this kind of film.

I love how it turned the zombie element on its ear – I’m honestly getting a little bored of zombies – not as much as I’m sick of vampires – but there’s too much zombie stuff going around these days. There are some good twists – and some head scratchers in this film – but after a step back from watching them both – they make far more sense than most American horror movies.

Though I have not seen QUARANTINE 2 – from the previews it appears that it abandon’s all that the premise that makes [REC 2] special – which actually makes me curious to see Q2 a bit.

Two additional [REC] films are being planned – reading that just now gives me a little chill up my spine – I can’t wait.

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