Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


The zombies are coming!

REC (aka Red Light/2007). Directors: Jaume Belaguero; Paco Plaza.

A reporter named Angela (Manuela Velasco) is doing a story on the local fire department with her unseen cameraman, Pablo (Pablo Rosso), when an alarm comes in. Inexplicably the fire department is called in simply because an elderly lady in an apartment building is screaming, even though a police officer (Vincente Gil) is already on the scene. The ravenous old lady attacks two men, and authorities on the outside quarantine the building to stop the spread of a possible bacteriological infection. Everyone who's bitten by an infected person becomes violent and crazy. Angela and Pablo struggle to stay alive while everything is recorded solely by the video camera. Rec can make you nauseous not because of the bloodletting, but because of the shaky camera movements. It's one thing to use this approach when the events unfolding are real, but when they're just made up it makes little sense to subject the audience to tedious, documentary-style "camerawork" when a normal approach would work so much better. Although Rec was a hit in Spain and was remade in the U.S. as Quarantine, it has absolutely no new ideas, so you wonder if its fans have ever seen that many horror films. The creepy moments are nearly outnumbered by the stupid ones, and for long stretches the movie is incredibly boring. The film also has little emotional resonance, making it mostly schlock. So far there have been two sequels, with a third on the way, and Quarantine itself has an unrelated sequel as well. I will happily miss all of them. At least the acting is rather good.

Verdict: An occasional taut moment, but mostly over-familiar tedium; you've seen it all before. **.

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