I was ecstatic when I heard that we were watching REC in class. It has quickly become one of my favorite horror films of all time. I think one of the reasons I love REC so much is because I love its raw energy and its ability to surprise you. Now I know it sounds like it should be the most obvious thing for a horror film to have the ability to surprise, but sadly more often than not that isn’t the case anymore with a lot of horror films these days. And if they do still retain that certain ability to surprise, they are there simply as cheap, empty scares. Meant to do nothing but instill a momentary kind of fear in the viewer. It’s the kind of scare that doesn’t really have a purpose. In REC however, each delivery propels the story forward and also digs deep into your skin, as if we get continual wake up calls saying we’re here in the middle of the story. The way that REC is done never fails to keep you on the edge of your seat.
For example, when the fireman falls from the stairs and is found to be bleeding profusely, it is startling, and absolutely terrifying, because everyone in the apartment is now faced with the horrifying reality that something is up there, something evil and could kill them and that they are now trapped and must face whatever it is. It instills terror in the tenants, and that terror translates to the audience.We feel just as trapped and doomed as they are, but we can’t turn away because we are interested to see what happens next. I think the fact that we are viewing all this from Pablo’s hand-held camera also adds to the feeling that we’re in the film experiencing everything as it unfolds. I especially like how we are all just as clueless as everyone in the room. In that way, we really feel like we are more than a viewer, we are taking part in the situation. And the worst part? We have absolutely no control. It’s like we’re strapped onto that camera with our hands tied behind our backs. It’s almost literally like a roller coaster ride.
I suppose my favorite thing about REC would be that whole hand-held camera aspect. I’ve always been a little iffy about movies in the found footage category. For me, it’s either you do it well, or not at all. A favorite example of a well done found footage horror film would be the Blair Witch Project. For me, the Blair Witch Project is one of the most well done, and scariest films I have ever seen. And the most amazing part? The monster was never even shown. Which I think is a point of discussion, because sometimes it’s even better when we don’t see the monster. It’s a matter of familiarity deflating the horror. I’ve noticed that in horror films that weren’t particularly successful, the moment it sopped being scary was the moment the monster was revealed. I agree with what was said in class, that by withholding the monster you make the horror effective because there’s always that part inside your head that over thinks and comes up with all these awful pictures of what the monster truly is and what it can do. And so I think this was also successfully done in REC, wherein, although we saw many of the zombies run around and start eating everyone in the apartment, the scariest part of the movie was when we were trapped with Pablo and Angela in the attic, and we had no idea just what exactly was lurking in the dark. Those few minutes were some of the most heart-stopping minutes of my life.
All in all, I think [REC] is an amazingly scary film. And that’s something rare nowadays.