out of Five
Running time: 78
Superbly acted, brilliantly directed and absolutely bloody terrifying, this is one of the best films of the year.
What's it all about?
Rec stars Manuela Velasco as Angela, a perky TV news reporter who's shadowing a Barcelona firehouse for the night, along with her faithful cameraman, Pablo. Initially, Angela's disappointed because nothing much seems to be happening, but things liven up considerably when the firemen get called to an apartment building to investigate reports that an old lady (Martha Carbonell) is acting strangely.
Shortly after the firemen arrive, the old woman savagely bites a policeman and as the firemen try to take him to hospital, they discover that the building has been quarantined and no-one is allowed to leave. To make matters worse, the trapped residents quickly discover that the old lady has a contagious virus that turns the infected into ravenous zombies.
Co-directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza employ the same Blair Witch-style single camera technique that's recently been used in both Cloverfield and Podcast - sorry, Diary - of the Dead. However, the enclosed setting means that the technique is much more effective here, creating a powerfully claustrophobic atmosphere.
Velasco is terrific as Angela – she's thoroughly convincing as a vacuous TV reporter and her subsequent terror is all the more infectious as a result. There's also strong support from the likes of Ferran Terraza and David Vert as the firefighters, although there isn't much time to really get to know the characters before all the running and screaming starts.
Balaguero and Plaza have clearly watched a lot of zombie movies and they orchestrate some nail-bitingly suspenseful sequences as well as some genuinely terrifying jump-out-of-your-seat moments. Unsurprisingly, the film has already been remade in America (retitled Quarantine) but you should definitely seek out the original first.
In short, Rec is that rare cinematic treat – a horror film that's actually scary. It's also one of the best films of the year and it marks Balaguero and Plaza out as talents to watch. Highly recommended.