The found footage horror isn’t over yet, with the [Rec] series delivering even more terror and frights during our Halloween special.
(Spain 2017, directors: Jaume Balagueró/Paco Plaza)
While filming a nightshift of a local fire station, a TV reporter and her cameraman find themselves locked in an apartment building where a mysterious disease turns people into raving madmen and madwomen.
After The Blair Witch Project created quite a hype with its amateurish filmmaking that somehow made people scared beyond reason, [Rec] tries to be just as realistic, but with much more violence. Unfortunately, it fails on so many levels, mainly with the lead and everyone else around her. The constant fast talking and hysterical screaming becomes so annoying that one wants to either turn off the sound or the whole thing. The shaky camera movements try to add more dynamic action, but all they do is create nausea. Having people confined in a relatively small space isn’t very new and has been done to death, and if having people run around in their underwear is what should make it more frightening, then it’s obvious that the in-your-face jumpscares and violent outbursts aren’t particularly inventive.
It’s not all bad, though, as the setting with people distrusting their neighbors is interesting and the final sequences are actually a bit scary. If one wants to enjoy the movie for a rollercoaster ride of people attacking each other and running around with lots of screaming, then one should be prepared for uninteresting characters one doesn’t care about, a camera one would rather throw in the reporter’s face to make her shut up, and a pretty bad resolution of a script that finally realized it had to be explained somehow in the final minutes.
(Spain 2017, directors: Jaume Balagueró/Paco Plaza)
A special GEO unit and a supposed medical officer are sent into the same quarantined building the TV reporter went in before, only to find out that the infection people suffer from is of a more religious nature.
Continuing where the first movie left of, one sees the story from two different perspectives which also tie up loose ends. What sounds much more elaborate, isn’t that complicated, as one simply follows the elite troop and then a bunch of teenagers. What starts out to be a big step up from the hysterical screaming and nausea-inducing shaky camera because of a much more focused point of view, which is reminiscent of the marines’ equipment and video feed in Aliens, unfortunately turns into another barrage of shouting and distorted images.
Thankfully, the teenager part is soon over and the armed forces are back with the help of an exorcist, making it a refreshingly different story than what one saw in the original. Even though the religious themes of demons and possessed people was hinted at, it’s pretty much in the open now, making this a more unique experience with some surprising twists along the way. There’s more action and gore, but the tense and scary moments are present and correct as well, turning it into a much more enjoyable movie that is only let down by annoying characters and even more headache camera work.
(Spain 2012, director: Paco Plaza)
During a couple’s wedding, guests start to get infected, resulting in demonic bloodshed and a bloody fight for survival.
Praise has to be handed to the [Rec] team as despite its flaws of the first two movies, it always tries to do something different. So it’s not surprising to see the first 20 minutes with a horrible shaky camera that captures various human relationship moments during a wedding, only to be completely turned around. Anyone who has always wanted to kick either the camera man or woman and the recording tool itself will clap their hands when it’s finally smashed to the ground and a much more cinematic presentation is used to bring the gory action and especially the humor to the forefront, resulting in scenes in which one can actually see what is happening without feeling the need to throw up.
After the first two movies were rather serious affairs, this one can only be called a horror comedy with plenty of silly situations and plenty of blood and guts being spilled. Having a character who is dressed up as SpongeBob (only he calls himself John Sponge due to copyright problems) for entertaining the children, some others using medieval gear to fight against the more zombie-like creatures, and even the main heroine ripping her dress and getting hold of a chainsaw is all you need to know about how crazy things become. Despite making many people angry with this humorous approach, it’s the best thing that could have happened to the series: It introduces characters with chemistry between them one cares about and delivers a fun ride that has more gore than many Romero movies and more funny sequences than other so-called horror comedies combined. Granted, the whole demon possession idea isn’t as scary anymore (although there are a few tense scenes) and with only one reference to the original this could just be a standalone horror flick. But it’s entertaining and effective in so many ways, including a killer soundtrack, that it’s not to be missed.
[REC] 4: Apocalipse
(Spain 2017, director: Jaume Balagueró)
The TV reporter who somehow survived the ordeals in the apartment complex is rescued and brought on a ship where the virus soon takes form again despite the best efforts of a team of scientists.
After the third instalment that somehow alienated fans of the franchise with its comedy elements, the newest entry is a much more serious affair. With only a very small reference to the events of the wedding gone crazy, it’s a direct sequel to the second movie, which means that the TV reporter is back, minus the camera man and actually minus the shaky camera. Fortunately, her hysterical screaming is kept at a minimum, but if one is looking for another found footage rollercoaster ride, one should look elsewhere, as this is as straighforward as action/gore-focused horror comes. Reminiscent of the newer Resident Evil games or movies, there’s plenty of bloody violence and imaginative death sequences against a horde of zombies which doesn’t come across as anything religious anymore.
What this means is that what made the first two movies so memorable (and annoying) is completely missing, so no more running around with a camera that bumps against everything or anyone. While this results in well-done action sequences that can finally be watched in all their disgusting glory, it also ends up as nothing special anymore. The secluded ship setting has potential, but even Resident Evil: Revelations already did this 5 years before, and it’s telling that introducing a bunch of characters for the first half hour or so who are as forgettable as they’re disposable, it again proves that the REC series doesn’t have much of an overall story arc to keep it together. Trying to add some The Thing-like paranoia (see reviews of the 1982 and 2011 versions), the movie veers towards suspense, but ultimately ends up as an entertaining gory flick, which isn’t that bad, considering how annoying the first two installments were.
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