Rating 3¾

Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paca Plaza

Written by Jaume Balagueró, Luis Berdejo and Paco Plaza

Starring Manuela Velasco, Pablo Rosso, Ferran Terraza, David Vert, Jorge Yamam Serrano, Vicente Gil, Martha Carbonell, Carlos Vicente. María Teresa Ortega, Manuel Bronchud, Akemi Goto, Chen Min Kao, Daniel Trinh, Maria Lanau, Claudia (Silva) Font and Ben Temple

Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco), a young television reporter, is filming a documentary at a Barcelona fire station with her cameraman, Pablo (Pablo Rosso). A call comes in during the early hours of the morning and a unit is dispatched to respond to a report that an old woman has become trapped in her apartment. When they arrive on the scene and break down the apartment door, they discover that the woman is in a state of extreme violent distress, viciously attacking one of the fire crew. They then find themselves quarantined without expanation and locked inside the building, along with the handful of residents. It is then that the full horror of what they have stumbled upon slowly begins to unfold.


‘[REC]’ is a Spanish horror film, co-written and directed by Jaume Balagueró, whose previous work includes the flawed but interesting and worthwhile English-language horror film ‘Darkness’, starring Anna Paquin, and ‘Para entrar a vivir’, part of the excellent 2006 ‘Peliculas para no dormir’ series of Spanish made-for-television films (‘6 Films To Keep You Awake’). Everything in the film is seen through the lens of the hand-held camera operated by Pablo and is, effectively, shot to create the effect that it is the documentary film footage. The two most immediately obvious points of comparison here are ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and ‘Cloverfield’ (I have not as yet seen the latter). Another film that quickly came to my mind is ‘The Mist’.

The sense of growing hysteria, fear and claustrophobia is extremely well done and the acting is excellent. Manuela Velasco, in particular, is very impressive, but the same is true of all the actors. I did, in truth, eventually find the film verging on being slightly tedious; I was worn down a little bit from watching people, covered in more and more blood, constantly screaming and running up and down flights of stairs through a shaky camera lens. However, clocking in at just 75 minutes, it does not outstay its welcome and is successful in everything it sets out to achieve.

‘[REC]’ has a 94% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 18 reviews. An American remake, ‘Quarantine’, starring Jennifer Carpenter, was released in October 2008.

Review posted 28 February 2009


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