Tuesday, October 9, 2018

[REC] (2007) Blu-ray Review

[Rec] (2007) d. Jaume Balagueró /Paco Plaza (Spain) (78 min)

As the reality-TV onslaught continued into the late 2000s, it was no surprise that the “found footage” trend of horror filmmaking (originally spawned with Cannibal Holocaust, later reaching the mainstream with The Blair Witch Project, and soon to explode with Paranormal Activity) still had legs. With 2008 already having seen releases of Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead, there should have been little surprising left to see from the first-person, shaky-cam format. However, Spanish filmmakers Balagueró and Plaza’s high-concept, low-budget offering managed to pack more feverish, twitchy energy and legitimate scares into its under-80-minute running time than both of its gringo compatriots combined.

The chirpy, impossibly cute Manuela Velasco stars as Angela, the host of a dreary, dead-air filler TV program, following the routine of local Barcelona firefighters which includes a late-night call to an old apartment block. But when a terrifying hag-like resident takes a bite out of her would-be rescuers, the entire complex is locked-down as all hell breaks loose – with the ensuing mayhem duly captured on shuddery, blood-splattered, documentary-style video. (Kudos to DP/camera operator Pablo Rosso, who actually plays Velasco’s onscreen cameraman “Pablo.”)

With plentiful gore and little exposition, Balagueró, Plaza, and co-screenwriter Luiso Berdejo conjured a true (and all-too-rare) sense of urgency, terrifying viewers with the prospect of what lies just outside the camera’s viewfinder, with a mind-blowing third-act twist that made it much more just another fast-moving-zombies flick. This closing-reel reveal left the door open for further exploration, a challenge the dynamic duo accepted and exceeded with their stellar follow-up, [Rec] 2, which in turn spawned a prequel and a concluding chapter, [Rec] 3: Genesis and [Rec] 4: Apocalypse, directed (individually) by Plaza and Balagueró, respectively.

Shout! Factory delivers one of the best POV flicks to your home screen as part of their [Rec] Collection, which includes all four Spanish-language features. The high-def presentation of this first installment showcases a terrific audio commentary by the filmmakers (in Spanish with English subtitles), as well as a number of featurettes, including a 40-minute making-of, extended and deleted scenes, theatrical trailers, TV spots, still gallery, and nearly an hour of cast/crew interviews. The film itself is presented in its original Spanish with English subtitles, although there is also an English-dubbed version available for the reading-shy set.

[Rec] is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:


Trivia: [Rec] was made in 2008 (nearly shot-for-shot, at 17 times the budget) as the Hollywood big-screen effort, Quarantine, which then spawned its own sequel, Quarantine 2: Terminal.


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