The [REC] Collection: [REC] Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
Written by Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza and Luis Berdejo
2007, 78 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on September 25th, 2018
Manuela Velasco as Ángela Vidal
Ferran Terraza as Manu
Pablo Rosso as Pablo
David Vert as Alex
Carlos Vicente as Guillem
Jorge-Yamam Serrano as Sergio
Martha Carbonell as Mrs. Izquierdo
Claudia Silva as Jennifer
Maria Lanau as Mari Carmen
A small news crew is doing a slice-of-life entertainment segment showing what a typical workday is like at a local firehouse. Not every call is to put out a fire; there are plenty of types of emergencies that require immediate response too. There’s a lot of down time and camaraderie as the men play basketball and share a large meal. Ángela Vidal is the host of While You’re Sleeping and is game for anything as long as it entertains her audience. She tries on the oversized firefighter’s uniform and joins in the ball game before the alarm bell rings and calls the guys into action. An elderly woman is trapped in her apartment and needs assistance. Ángela and her camera man join the team as they answer the call. They arrive on the scene and meet the residents in the lobby before heading upstairs.
There is something wrong with the woman in trouble; she appears disturbed and unexpectedly violent. She attacks a firefighter and a police officer, biting them about the face and neck. The situation quickly escalates when it is discovered that while they were inside, the local police and military have stepped in and cordoned off the area, placing the building on lockdown. Nobody gets in or out, even though they now have injured men inside. Things intensify once it is discovered that the vicious woman is contagious and now there is more than one dangerous person in the building. Ángela instructs her camera man to record everything and it is through these tapes that the action unfolds. We witness the situation degrade into chaos and a fight for survival. Can a cure be found and will it be discovered in time to save the residents?
[REC] is a Spanish film released in 2007 during the found-footage craze. Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, who co-wrote the script along with Luis Berdejo, the film captures the energy of a nightmare unfolding in real time. The narrative moves swiftly with a sense of urgency that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats as the suspense builds from one sequence to the next. By placing a news crew at the heart of the story, it makes sense for everything to be documented. The camera man is a pro, so this reduces the queasy shaky-cam footage found in similar product, but at some point one would think he would drop the camera and run away from danger. Manuela Velasco stars as Ángela and carries a lot of this picture with her wonderful performance. She reacts to the situation escalating around her and handles herself admirably, making her a strong female lead at the heart of a chaotic fright-fest.
Trapped in a quarantined building with a rapidly spreading virus is a terrifying premise and the directors make the most of the material. When the violence comes it is sudden and ferocious. Our band of survivors begins to dwindle and the ranks of the infected appear unstoppable. Some last-minute mucking with the mythology introduces more of a supernatural element than I felt necessary, but I was never pulled out of the moment. With its brisk (78 minute) running time, [REC] doesn’t waste any time once the situation is in play. Characters react believably without ever slipping into mindless bickering and for that I am grateful. If you somehow missed this upon its initial release, you may have caught the domestic remake Quarantine (2008). The original is the way to go here with its immediacy and direct approach to the material.