Watching Rec was a very fast-paced, breathless, and hurrying experience. I guess the fact that the way it was filmed lends to that and in terms of setting up people for scares it was novel, really. The film deals with some ambiguity at the very start and basically becomes the foundation for much of scare factor as it goes on.
As far as the monstrous element in the film goes, the movie isn’t so keen on divulging information about it, a move I commend in light of how it facilitated that feeling of isolation in the viewers as well from those outside who seem to be in the know. That sense of unknowing further facilitates that fear of the unknown and later, as the unknown is known, it becomes an instance where you simply can’t seem to digest or make sense of this horrid revelation.
For me, I like the way the movie avoids or subverts the obvious line of thinking where we all conclude that the feral people are zombies and just leaves them at ‘Infected’ because it leaves me with nothing to cling on to in terms of easy answers. Usually in a horror movie there’s be that one eureka moment when the big reveal shows how to stop the horror, but for Rec, through to the end, you are peppered with these minute revelations instead and you are left without a sense of really knowing how to deal with the dilemma.
Still, zombie or infected, the fear is still delivered, by and large, through the rabid former-people chasing the trapped camera crew around the building. Thinking about it a little, this kind of horror scares people in much the same way that maybe the idea of cannibalism puts off people. It’s that idea of that uncivilized step backwards into an environment where survival and hostility are one and the same. The cascading heel-face-turn of people who were themselves victims of the violence is horrible in the sense I think because it reminds us of the capacity for uncivilized descent into an uncontrollable mob-like mentality. One infected is scary enough but the idea of a horde is horrendous
Another general element of horror aside from the obvious use of the monstrous element is the feeling of entrapment. In the movie, as the occupants move about trying to get to possible escape routes and continually get obstructed by people outside of the building, at some point the whole building begins to get a lot smaller. This shrinking zone of comfort is further augmented by the continual penetration of the new smaller comfort zone by a foreign element.
One thing I felt rather odd or seemingly unnatural through the course of the movie was the insistence of the heroine, Angela, on filming the events. Yes, at first it made sense when they were just filming it as part of their role as a news crew and also when they were being kept out of the loop of things by the government outside. Later, though, it began to feel unnatural as things escalated towards the deaths and infection of others and still Angela insisted Pablo keep filming. It makes sense to do so from the narrative point of view but this putting of the need to survive in preference to documenting the sequence of events seems in most cases to be unthinkable.
In parts of the movie I basically keep finding myself finding relief every time the cameraman puts down or turns off the camera because I feel the characters are making a willful effort to survive. But every time they pick the camera back or it turns back on I feel there is a sense of horror in that act as well. There’s that notion where I feel like I don’t want to know more.
The ending of the movie is an interesting twist where it finally does make the distinction that apart from the scientific explanation of ‘Infection’, there also exists the idea of demonic possession as a parallel on the religious side. The religious aspect coming into play here is an interesting move because by that, they seemingly provide the audience with that final bid for salvation from the horror. Of course, it never happens but I find it interesting that in that moment where they are quite possibly in the worst possible situation where there are infectees inside and outside the penthouse, an unknown room, it is not as disquieting having the element of the religious aspect in play at the moment.