2007 saw the big revival of the found footage horror films with the surprise hit Paranormal Activity which went on to rejuvenate the sub genre and create numerous sequels of its own. The same year another found footage film arrived from overseas which was arguably a much better film; Rec. Although it didn’t reach the same levels of paranormal activity in terms of exposure it did get critically well received and ended up spawning sequels and an American remake called Quarentine in 2008. I’ve always held a soft spot for Rec but hadn’t actually watched it for a long time.
The film follows a camera crew following emergency services into an apartment block. Soon everything goes wrong and they realise there aren’t just people in there with them. As they try to escape they realise a quarantine has been put up outside meaning they are stuck with the zombie-like creatures with no means of escape.
The story may not be the most original in the world but it works perfectly well as a backbone for some truly terrifying moments and some unbelievably tense sections. The fact everything is from the reporters camera means that the tension and claustrophobia of the situation are enhanced so much. The film has no let up and is a scary adrenaline rush from beginning to end. Much like many foreign horror films, it doesn’t feel the need for silly humour. Instead it stays very real, grounded and serious. The tone is spot on and is near perfect.
The chaos of the situation works really well and as it all unfolds, being there with the characters allows us to feel what they feel. There are no stupid stereotypes here in the characters. Everyone feels like they could be a real person fighting to survive. It also creates that ‘What would you do?’ situation, which is pretty great.
It would have been so easy for the film to not feel like a found footage flick but everything here feels natural. It does have the problem, as many films like this have, in that the camera is coincidetently pointing in the right direction at times, but that’s something that just happens with POV films. I think there was only one moment like which jarred – right near the end – but it didn’t spoil anything for me. The film is almost the perfect example of a simple idea done so incredibly well.
It’s scary, tense and a great thrill ride – and one I can happily recommend. It lived up to my memories of it and really stands tall as one of the best found footage films ever and one of my favourite horror films.
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