Thursday, March 3, 2011

my thoughts on.... '[REC]'

the DVD cover above states that this film "The movie that inspired 'Quarantine'".... that's not exactly right.... 'Quarantine' was a direct re-make of '[REC]'.... so much so that it's practically shot for shot.... it even has a very similar building, fire station, etc.... now, i saw 'Quarantine' first.... and i like Jennifer Carpenter, being a fan of 'Dexter' and all.... i actually enjoyed it.... i gave it 4 out of 5 stars and you can find my review on this blog (you can also find the DVD in my library).... it's not a popular opinion that i have, nor the most popular DVD library.... i find that i'm in the minority most of the time with 'Quarantine'.... perhaps if i'd see this film first, i might have felt differently.... but the re-make didn't taint my opinion at all.... it was kind of a 'Let the Right One On'/'Let Me In' scenario.... both were very good, both we're worthwhile films.... however, one still ended up being superior to the other.... and that's what happened here.

if you've read my blog long enough, you'll notice that i use certain phrases and words on a regular basis.... you may see that if i see something and call it a 'movie', that means that it was not something that i feel is art or worthy of high praise (generally).... but if i use the word 'film', it's like the ultimate compliment.... that means that i loved it.... that being said, what i'd like to go over again is my phrase "pitch perfect filmmaking".... my definition is a film that is as close to perfect as you can come.... everything about it is solid.... cinematography, script, direction, acting, etc.... that it's art.... that it will stand the test of time.... like someone with 'perfect pitch', the film hits all of the notes correctly for the entire length of the film.... i feel that '[REC]' is an example of pitch perfect filmmaking.... and that's not always the easiest thing to accomplish in the horror genre, it just doesn't lend itself to being art.... now, i would argue that it has a whole lot more art to it than people give it credit for.... however, i once again am in the minority....

for nearly the past decade, the French have been continully putting out high quality horror films.... however, i'd not seen anything from Spain that reached out of my home entertainment center and grabbed me by the ears and said, "SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!".... i was seriously wondering if they would.... everything i'd seen up to that point just hadn't come close to impressing me.... '[REC]' changed all of that.... in a really big way.... this film made me jump at some of the scares and the last 15 minutes were terrifying.... leaps and bounds beyond the re-make in those accomplishments.... some of you may stray away from this because of the hand held shaky cam style filmmaking.... but in this situation it just adds to the terror.... because you're experiencing it first hand, as if you're Pablo the cameraman.... also, the actors in this film put themselves into the action with 100% commitment.... even though the overall scenario has been seen before and the reason behind the killings are a bit silly, it doesn't matter.... they sell it.... i wish i hadn't avoided this film for so long, but i didn't want to come into it with 'Quarantine' still fresh in my mind.... i'd heard so many good things about this that i wanted my brain to be open to viewing it as if i'd known nothing about it.... in hindsight, i'm glad i waited.
'[REC]' takes place in a single evening when a reporter is doing a 'fluff' piece on the local firemen.... she's staying the night at their firehouse and showing what their lives are like.... the daily grind, the in's and out's, and the occasional call to an emergency.... things start out quiet enough, but soon a call comes in that a woman needs help in an apartment complex.... so they load up and head down to the location, with the reporter and her cameraman in tow.... at the apartment, they find the tennants all in the lobby trying to figure out what's going on.... they direct the firemen and police to the woman's apartment and of course, the reporter and cameraman follow.... they find the woman dazed and motionless in her apartment.... as they try and question her to find out what's wrong, she suddenly attacks one of the firemen.... everyone flees the woman's apartment and head downstairs to re-group and tend to his wounds.... when they try to get outside to get him further medical attention, they find that they've been sealed in by the emergency teams outside.... soon they're informed that there is a possible biohazardous situation in the building and no one can leave until they figure out exactly what's going on.... being in an enclosed space and having murderous tennants on the loose, things go from bad to worse as things begin to fall apart.... meanwhile, the camera never stops rolling.

if you've seen 'Quarantine', my plot summary in the previous paragraph is probably a bit of deja vu.... but the two films are actually quite different in tone and feel.... i feel like the pace and tension are a lot higher in '[REC]'.... it never seems to have a dull moment... things just come at you one right after the other until you're exhausted and unsure if you want to go on.... but curiousity and solid filmmaking carry you the rest of the way.... and the payoff is well worth the trip.... i don't want to give away the ending, however i will say that it's not quite the same as the re-make.... i think it's more effective.... the only problem i had with it was that they kind of inject a twist on the storyline that is confusing.... i felt like once they entered the penthouse apartment for protection, that we were suddenly watching a different film.... not a bad film, but one that isn't quite the same as the previous one.... perhaps the sequel will delve deeper into the ending of this one and explain things to me.... maybe i just missed it....? it really doesn't matter, i crapped my pants regardless.... and i still gave it a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars.... i truly loved this film.... it as amazing.... it has spawned 3 sequels, 1 that's already been released and 2 more that are in production.... i don't honestly know if you can milk this long enough to make a franchise out of it.... i also don't know if you'd want to make a franchise out of it.... part of the horror of this is NOT knowing what happens and NOT knowning exactly what the cause is of the outbreak.... this is a bleak film and bleak films generally don't result in sequels.... not the smart ones.... the good news is that '[REC]2' has gotten pretty positive reviews, so i have hope still....

so all in all, i highly recommend this film.... it's, as i said at the beginning, pitch perfect filmmaking.... everything about this movie is spot on.... you couldn't ask for a stronger start to my love affair with Spanish horror.... i just hope that you give this a chance and that you don't mind subtitles.... dubbing would ruin this.... just watch 'Quarantine' instead, if you don't want it subtitled.... this is only available to rent on Netflix right now.... unless you have another method, that's the way to get it....

'[REC]2' is already lined up for my viewing this weekend.... i'll be sure to let you know what i think.... if i survive.

if you like this, check out: 'Quarantine', '28 Days Later' and '28 Weeks Later'

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