Now, THIS was the type of movie I thought we’d be watching in this Horror Film class. I say this only because, initially, I thought it was made in the way I would stereotype horror movies – a seemingly inescapable circumstance, monsterous characters, death, gore, screams and shocks. I thought the horror was a bit more superficial, more shallow, more concentrated on aesthetics. Thats not to say, however, that the aesthetics were in any way sub-par. The aesthetics and the shock value of these images are what made REC so enjoyable. Though the plot is nothing extraordinary, the aesthetics helped give the plot the lift it needed to make it a truly horrifying film.
Though I did find that the aesthetics really took center stage in this movie, as I applied the discussion on the “Three Streams of Horror” to my assessment, I did realize that REC did incorporate more aspects of Horror film than just disturbing imagery. REC, in my opinion, integrated certain elements of Moral Allegory and Psychological Horror, creating depth in the movie I had initially not seen (and what many might not readily see in this movie).
Under Moral Allegory, first, we see the intrusion of a supernatural evil into reality. The supernatural reality is obviously the possessed girl that was brought in the building by the former Penthouse inhabitant who intended to cure her of the virus that caused her demonic possession. After the virus manages to mutate and become contagious, he flees, locking his subject in his apartment. This evil in the form of a contagious virus that possesses anyone who comes in physical contact with it is then spread throughout the building, making possession and death a reality for all who reside there. The second is the obvious battle between good and evil. The good I would identify here would be all those who tried to get to the bottom of the problem, in one way or another, and the bad I would identify as the former Vatican agent turned mad scientist, the original possessed girl and all those infected.
Under Psychological Horror, we see how REC makes use of a certain aspect of this stream of horror by introducing a deviant or abnormal human psychology. Some might wonder why I believe the presence of such exists but I believe it most certainly does, in the mad scientist. I believe he was portrayed to seem like a fame-seeker that wanted to cure the girl only to obtain recognition. As we soon find out, however, is that he failed in his search for a cure and instead flee while damning the rest of his neighbors to certain infection. There is horror also emanating, I believe, in the idea of a man so driven by his selfishness that he was willing to neglect responsibility for his actions that lead to bringing (and eventually leaving) this girl to live in his apartment.
In terms of plotting, I think REC was the first movie we watched that Sir would categorize as a bit more “obviously manipulative” than the other movies we had watched in class. Though it still basically follows the Aristotelian form of a narrative where there is a beginning, a rising action, the climax, a falling action and then the resolution, there were also, as Sir mentioned, “obviously manipulative’ parts as well. Examples of which would be when a new person would be in danger of getting bitten, when the infected would turn violent, when an entrapment would occur and eventually when they discover the girl that started it all. These parts were “obviously manipulative” in the sense that they were filmed and directed to be that way to startle the viewers (as it obviously did based on all of Tina’s wonderfully expressive, and equally entertaining, outbursts).
All in all, though initially it would seem that REC was merely a horror film getting by through mere aesthetics, after further reflection, you come to realize it is indeed so much more. It reminded me that really good horror films don’t just rely on one aspect of it to evoke horror out of you but incorporate many different horrifying elements to truly create an unforgettable viewing experience, as REC eventually did.