Sunday, 9 March 2014

[Rec] (2007)

The only reason not to see [Rec] is if you are pathologically incapable of watching scary movies. I'm not even willing to accept subtitles as a barrier here, given that the film is only 75 minutes long.

This is an exceptional piece of suspense-based film-making. The script is tight, avoiding most of the pitfalls of 'found footage' films. That was a cinematic technique launched by The Blair Witch Project, but I'd say [Rec] transcends the originator. Unlike Blair Witch, this film does not rely on 'what happened off screen'. It shows you stuff, and it does so without losing any impact.

Our main character is TV presenter Angela. Accompanied by her mostly-silent cameraman Pablo, she hosts a TV show focusing on the lives and jobs of nighttime shift workers. Tonight, they're accompanying firefighters. A call takes them to an apartment building where the are reports of a disturbance involving an old woman. Things rapidly take a turn for the dangerous, and then for the truly frightening.

Angela is a great character: she's almost annoying bouncy and upbeat at the beginning. She's also very focused on getting a story, in the manner of reporters in movies and TV shows. A nice change from the formula, however, is that she's a person first and a reporter - albeit a dedicated one - second. She might be committed to making sure there is a record of what happens, but when things go to hell she actively tries to help. None of the usual 'I'm just here for my Pulitzer' stuff.

The film also does a good job with the supporting cast. They're not on screen enough to be richly detailed, but the script gives each of them a couple of key signifiers so that you quickly get a sense of who they are and how they differ to the other people around them. These are not the interchangeable victims of less well-crafted films.

Both thumbs well and truly up.

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