Film Review – [Rec] (2007)

Originally released in 2007, Spanish horror flick Rec debuted amongst the height of the Found Footage craze. Starting with 1999’s Blair Witch Project there was a considerable amount of time where it felt like if a film wasn’t in the found footage style it wasn’t a horror film. Even at the time the film managed to rise above the rest, gaining international attention, spawning numerous sequels and the inevitable, inferior American remake. Rereleased now by Arrow Video, on an upgraded Blu-ray edition, the landscape of the Horror genre looks considerably different. Found Footage had thoroughly out-stayed its welcome and the horror market was over-saturated with cheap and poorly made imitators, thoroughly killing any originality the subgenre once had. Nowadays Found Footage seems to have died a death, its own clichés have grown clichés, and every trick and turn it had has become predictable.

In revisiting Rec now, it is pleasantly surprising to see how well it holds up. The film centres on two TV reporters, Angela (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman Pablo (Javier Coromina) as they follow a group of local firemen. The boredom shows on Angela’s face throughout the interviews, clearly disappointed in their assignment and desperate for something to happen; she keeps wishing the alarm will ring. Of course, it eventually does and she and Pablo rush to an apartment block along with Fireman Manu (Ferran Terraza). Once they arrive there, all the residents are gathered in the stairwell, unsure what’s going on and disturbed by shouting coming from one of their neighbours. An old woman in one apartment seems to have gone mad, uncontrollably aggressive she attacks a police officer forcing Angela and the rest to flee. As they return to the ground floor, they learn that the health department has locked the exits and placed the building in quarantine, trapping everyone inside with some unknown infection.

Rec has a relatively simple plot which allows for a series of scares and escalating terror, but what’s key to its continued success is how meticulously well planned the script is. Die Hard gets praised for its intricate placing of characters so they’re in the right place for the right moment in the film. Rec similarly structures the plot so that areas of danger and areas of relief can practically be mapped to the structure of the building. As the story progresses the film grows increasingly claustrophobic and wildly chaotic, with residents turning on each other in their panic. Yet rather than turning into a blurry mess, Rec remains a thrill ride from beginning to end. It does such a good job of establishing plot threads and the physical location of characters and rooms that even while the camera is swinging blurrily from side to side, exactly what is happen couldn’t be clearer.

Directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza have said that they wanted the film to feel like it was happening live, and this is Rec’s signature trick; to place the audience directly in the middle of the action. Seen through the eyes of Pablo, or rather his camera, the audience is carried through the story, whether willingly or not, making the whole thing feel like the scariest theme park ride you’ve ever been on. Nearly fifteen years later, even after all the Found Footage films that followed it, Rec is still as terrifying as ever and, worst of all, it still feels like all of it is happening to you.

★★★★


Horror, Thriller | Spain, 2007 | 18 | Blu-Ray, 4K UHD, ARROW | 4th January 2021 (UK) |Dir.Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza | Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso, David Vert, Javier Coromina

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• High Definition Blu-ray presentation with two viewing options: the “theatrical version” (24fps, 1080p, 78 mins) as shown in cinemas, and the “production version” (25fps, 1080i, 75 mins) as originally filmed
• Original Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio options on both versions
• Optional English subtitles
• New audio commentary by film critic and historian Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Found Footage Horror: Fear and the Appearance of Reality
• Archive commentary by directors Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza
• The Making of [REC], an archive featurette examining the process of production featuring interviews with cast & crew
• How to Shoot a Horror Movie, a French-language featurette presented by directors Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza
• Archive interview with Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza looking back on the film
• The Fantastic Four, an archive panel discussion with [REC] directors Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza and new wave Spanish horror contemporaries Gonzalo Lopez Callego and Juan Antonio Bayona
• On set footage of the cast & crew at work on key scenes including “the attack on Mrs. Izquierdo” and the “climb to hell”
• Archive interview with director of photography Pablo Rosso
• Archive interview with sound supervisor Xavi Mas
• Archive interview with sound designer Oriol Tarragó
• Confidences, a video diary by star Manuela Velasco
• Deleted and extended scenes, including “Fire Station Redux”, “The Secret Archive” and “Corridors of Nails”
• Casting, original video footage from the audition process
• Trailers and TV spots
• Image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet with new writing on the film by Xavier Aldana Reyes

2007  | SPAIN | 78 MINUTES | HORROR | COLOUR | 1.85:1 |SPANISH|ENGLISH SDH