Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
on 16 May 2009
If you're of a nervous disposition but enjoy watching scary films then REC could be just the ticket. In terms of content there's not much new here but as an exercise in technique, this film really works. The story is neatly contrived to retain all the action within one building, which helps no end in cranking up the tension by injecting a strong sense of entrapment and claustrophobia. The zombie aspect is nothing new of course, but here it's played down and doesn't go overboard with gore as the emphasis is on fear and panic. These build to staggering proportions. In any case it's not a `zombie film'.
The film-crew-filming-a-documentary idea isn't original either but after all, this is just a means to an end it's played out very convincingly but also contributes to the film's major flaw, ie how many cameramen would actually continue filming in a situation where their lives are at risk? But we have to live with that of course - better not to ask such questions. There's also a very strange episode where the camera records the tape rewinding. Hmmm.
The camerawork is frantic and it does take a while to adjust to but stick with it - once you are locked in it drags you through the building, upstairs, downstairs, through the lady's chamber, and doesn't let you go. This approach is becoming commonplace in films such as these and it doesn't always work. Blair Witch was probably the film which kicked it all off in mainstream cinema and that film worked extremely well, despite stories of viewers having to leave the cinema because they couldn't hack it. Unfortunately the technique has now found its way onto television and here is largely used in an arbitrary and ill-considered fashion, with the result that it looks amateurish and becomes very annoying and unwatchable. The main reason is that it is used out of context but with films like Blair Witch and REC the context is set up within the narrative which makes it both acceptable and effective, if not always easy to watch especially on a large screen. Because of its subjectivity, the camera simply sees and tries to make sense of that which would be seen be the viewer. The result is total involvement.
The last section, which offers an explanation for the goings-on, has a bit of a tacked-on feel to it and feels a little out of kilter with the rest of the film. Nevertheless, it provides the most startling and disturbing images. The performances here aren't Oscar winning, but they don't need to be and they are more than adequate.
I've often wondered how many people have been truly terrified when watching horror films and I mean truly terrified. There aren't really that many films out there that can do that but perhaps this one comes close. At the end of the day, this one is simply an exercise in generating fear and panic and if it doesn't work for you, then fair enough but if you've reviewed it and dismissed it out of hand, then I ask you this: What exactly do you want?