[Rec] is a mockumentary horror film that plays with our notions of structure. Robin Wood mentions that the basic formula in a horror film is one where normality (defined alongside social institutions that support and defend the individual) is threatened by a monster. The monsters in horror films are never really just literal monsters and normal is never really just normal-in-the-movie. It is in fact more intact with reality than we choose to see or believe. [Rec] posts a very interesting query into the normality of our world: how safe are we from the institutions we so willingly venerate?
In [Rec], we did have monsters in the form of zombies or the “infected,” but the questions we had from the start of the movie (i.e. where did this infection come from?) were answered to form an even more ambiguous ending. Apparently, what was seemingly biological in nature was in fact religious. A virus reportedly struck those living in the apartment complex, eventually becoming hysterical maneaters; yet as the plot thickens, we find (or the reporter, Angela, and her cameraman, Paolo, find) that the virus came from a possessed girl locked in the attic by an agent of the Vatican. We see the interaction of two institutions — science and religion — which have constantly been at “war” and now working together in forming a problem that is doubly difficult to solve. How does one get rid of something that has both a supernatural and scientific foundations? Moreover, we see another institution (the government) in the police, who is supposedly the source of protection, is the very reason for the unsettlement of those trapped in the house. This aspect seems a bit vague, in a sense, but it is a show of misguided power that affects the lives of others. With all these three powerful institutions working together against the individual, survival rate is zero percent. By the end of the movie, Angela and Paolo are the only survivors. both are seen being pulled into darkness and we can safely assume that there is no one left alive and all hope is lost.
[Rec] isn’t just any other horror film. It is a film that challenges moral order; it challenges the individual to fight for survival in a world where one is being pushed and pulled into believing something or other. It challenges the strength of one’s will to “live,” to not compromise his position and himself. This is not a film for the faint of heart or the intellectually unstimulated. It is a film that frightens you to think. It is a movie that not only gives you goosebumps from all the “action” scenes — it also gives you a chill in what it stands for. From this movie, we see that horror is not just about scaring oneself from the fantasy world of the screen; it is also about the fears of reality.