Hearing the class get excited upon learning that we were going to watch “REC”, I immediately braced myself for one hell of a horror ride coming and I was not disappointed in the end. While I have never watched the movie, I learned early on that it was actually the basis for the Hollywood movie “Quarantine” that I watched three to four years back. I basically knew the overall theme and plot, but the movie definitely still gave me the goose bumps and thrills that I was expecting from it.
Set in the heart of Spain, REC is a film that used the “recovered lost tape” style similar to Paranormal Activity to add to the chills and excitement of the viewer experiencing the movie first hand. It stars Angela Vidal, a Spanish reporter, and her cameraman who were innocently shooting the lives of firemen for a television segment called “While You’re Sleeping” when an alarm in the fire station went off. While this call for rescue by local residents of an apartment building looked like an everyday case, it turns out to be that a contagious zombie-like biological virus has affected the lives of different individuals in the building. In attempting to contain the situation, however, everything just turned chaotic after people started to eat each other and the government locking the residents inside with all of them dying in the end.
Watching the film for a second time (since Quarantine and Rec almost have the same everything, except the language perhaps) made me focus more on how it induces the “horror” emotion within me through its styles and effects. First, the movie is definitely not for the claustrophobic. I have to say that the idea of being quarantined inside a cramped building with zombies, accompanied by the fact that the film is shot in raw first person point of view, makes the movie all the more horrifying especially for people hating that confined feeling. The movie also delves into the realms of science-fiction towards its middle to latter part, especially with the exploration on the possibility of isolating a “demonic” gene (or in present day terms a zombie strain) among humans. This probably is scary given how the characters in the movie were transformed from normal people to brazen animals with just a small bite. However, what is even more terrifying is not the infected people themselves but at how the government treated the people trapped inside the apartment building. It seems to be that the people who actually should be helping in a critical situation like that left the residents inside to die just like animals. While in a real world context we may be doing the same thing as what the government did, the fact that it is possible makes me shiver – especially knowing that when faced in similar situation, man can become like animals leaving their own kind to die.
Transcending the plot, I have to give credits to how the film effectively used the first person point of view shooting style to evoke even more horror from its audience. Because of this, we were not merely spectators but became active characters involved in the movie, also giving us a firsthand glimpse of what it really meant to be in the shoes of the characters we merely see in other horror movies. In fact, this made the film all the more truly horrific: to be the one stuck in the same situation as the characters in the movie and feeling their pain and emotions as they go through the terror. Honestly, this movie, through its shooting style and plot, effectively placed me in an empathetic situation of helplessness and dire desperation together with my fellow characters. In short, it did not only make me see the horror movie from a different point of view, it also and more importantly made me into one of the characters trying to desperately escape his doomed fate but to no avail in the end.
In the end, REC gave me the necessary thrills that I expected from a horror movie. While it does not necessarily make my top-of-mind awareness for the best horror films, it will still ring me a bell or two whenever I see a movie done in a similar first-person point of view because of a true horrific experience that I got. In fact, I have to say that I liked this better than the Paranormal Activity series because it made me into an active horror character hopelessly trapped in a helpless situation – a feat that only so few achieve.