Alas, I have nothing but all praise for this movie. The REC films have got to be one of my most favorite horror series of all time (not counting the sequels after REC 2 though, they were pretty lame IMO). REC in particular increased my taste for found footage/shaky cam cinematography and the zombie horror genre fusion. It is not the first time I’ve watched it, yet it still rattles me in its own way. This leads me to say that it presents a very effective brand of horror. Personally, before watching the film last year, it was a point in time where I found zombies getting quite overused in cinema. I could say that at that time, in my mind, I wasn’t really scared of them. “They move so slow that only a fool would be caught and eaten alive.” I thought. I could never jump or get shocked by them, partially because of the way their rotting corpses of bodies were shown completely in the screen. Yet when REC came, I think zombies were presented in a different way, both in their characteristics and the cinematography with which they were presented. It blew me away, definitely one of the films where I literally jumped from my seat.
In terms of characteristics, zombies in general are slow, walking, moaning brain-eaters. Zombies on REC are fast, intense, screaming (and running) mofos. This was one factor that contributed to my fear, as it gave me a new perspective on how zombies could be horrifying again. Furthermore, zombie stories usually start with scientific origins. An unknown Virus A spreads to some city and eventually all over the world. They derive their mythos mostly from science fiction. However, in this one, it was interesting to find religious symbolism and phenomena such as possession and the devil cast into the mix. A sense of the paranormal was chilling in a way, as if some greater force was behind all this than something we can merely classify scientifically.
Another reason I found the film jarring is that there is heightened sense of realism. This is largely due to the shaky cam cinematography which gives a more real sense of confusion and claustrophobia. We have been used to professional films: films filtered to look clean, with wide camera angles and shots to showcase a certain piece or a whole, of a set. Maybe it is a primal thing. We could relate more to the handheld effect because it is amateurish, and in a sense closer to us as viewers. Every shake, every blur, and every on screen struggle with the undead leaves us in a state of panic. It is a more personal experience as what we see is set by the camera’s own limitations.
Ultimately I think REC tries to bring a new look into the genre of the undead and through introducing it to new elements shot in shaky cam filming style, it is successful in delivering its own unique brand of creepiness and scares.