It's nearly 2 A.M. and we're still sealed in this building that we came to with the firemen earlier this evening, to assist an elderly woman who later attacked a policeman and a fireman. They're both in critical condition. The police won't let us leave and are giving us no explanations (Angela Vidal, [REC]).
Zombos Says: Excellent
After the goosebumps I received from Quarantine (2008), I expected watching the original Spanish version of this home-is-where-the-zombies-are, shaky-cam, movie would be a perfunctory exercise in comparing the two. I was wrong.
While Quarantine parallels [REC]'s situations and characters almost completely, [REC] still scared me even though I knew what to expect. It is more energetic--even more shaky--as fluffy-television reporter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) unexpectedly finds the news story of her career in the hallway and rooms of a Barcelona apartment building. The scenes are more brightly lit, the police officers more ineffectual, and the contagion more preternatural in origin, perhaps even supernatural. Even the rapid staccato of Spanish words alternately screamed, cried, or spoken in desperation by Angela, her camera man, and the helpless tenants around them, gives [REC] a personal sheen of terror that comes from having your home, which is normally a place of comfort and security, become the one place you do not want to be.
The home invasion-styled horror movie is a genre staple with various derivations. I will go out on a limb and state, without crunching the numbers properly, that home intruders terrorizing, as seen recently in The Strangers (2008), and earlier in Ils (Them, 2006), are not as prevalent as home sweet home soured as seen in movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The Uninvited (1944). The main differences lie in the former involving an active, direct, and immediate threat to one's safety--get out now or die!--as opposed to an ongoing, indirect, and future threat--what are those giant seed pods doing in Becky's cellar?-- that make the home the least safest place to be.
Of course, when both are combined into the more inclusive home intruders laying siege scenario, such as in Night of the Living Dead (1968)--where they're coming to get you inside while keeping you from going outside --the horror generates more from ongoing threats that are direct and indirect, and present and future perfect for terror, usually all rolled into a tidy, unrelenting, mayhem in a confined space.
[REC] falls into the home intruders laying siege category, but with a twist: laying siege within the building are the tenants themselves. While the military and police lay siege from without, keeping everyone, infected or not, locked up tight together. The growing number of infected tenants force the desperate survivors to seek temporary safety within the various apartment rooms as control of the hallway gives way to pandemonium.
While Quarantine adds more of the American sensibility for terror-filled gory moments--annoying man caught in elevator with zombie-dog; menacing zombie-fireman standing on sickeningly, bone-cracked legs; noisy drilling into brain moment (how many times have you seen those?)--[REC] keeps gore a little more subdued and spends more time with Angela interviewing the tenants as a real news reporter would do. It does slow the movie, but [REC] maintains a better sense of realism because of it.
A major difference between both movies involves the cause of the contagion. Quarantine shows its American-influenced zombie provenance by using the more scientifically explained and popular--for today's fiction and cinema--biohazard outbreak. [REC]'s virus stems from the isolation of it from the blood of a possessed girl, giving its explanation elements of religion, exorcism, and an old-world folklore creepy charm.
Within the context of an evolving news story shot from the camera man's perspective through his lens, [REC] and [Quarantine] remain the best use of the shaky-cam, found-footage, school of filming along with the Blair Witch Project (1999). And even if you have seen Quarantine, I urge you to see [REC]; not because it is the original story, but because it will still scare the daylights out of you.
The movie spawned four sequels: Rec 2 (2007), Rec 3 (2012): Genesis, and Rec 4: Apocalypse (2014). While Rec 2 continues the found-footage style, Rec 3 begins with it but then switches over to a more traditional story-telling style. Rec 4 moves the action to a ship and goes off the rails in doing so.
Just watched it last night, WOW!
I enjoyed Quarantine, but [REC] seemed to up the ante and just about scared the bejesus out of me. Loved it!
Posted by: Pax Romano | July 23, 2009 at 08:35 PM
I just purchased this yesterday and will be this evenings movie
Posted by: chriszenga | July 17, 2009 at 12:33 PM
It's on my Netflix list, can't wait to see it.
Posted by: Pax Romano | July 16, 2009 at 06:31 AM