Okay. So, I normally am not a huge fan of found footage horror films. They’re just not my cup of tea. They’re shaky and irritating to watch, they’ve been way overdone ever since Paranormal Activity, and for every decent one there’s about five crappy ones. But that's not to say I don’t have a few favorites.
[REC] is a good example of the right way to do a found-footage horror film. Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s film about a reporter who gets quarantined in an apartment building with something horrifying is the perfect blend of supernatural/paranormal and reality. That’s what makes a well-done found footage film so terrifying, it’s connection to reality — it feels like it could happen to us.
Balagueró and Plaza accomplished a stunning realism in [REC] by not giving the actors the entire script at one time. The directors also filmed the last scene in total darkness, so the actors had no idea what was happening around them. They even threw in surprises like one of the fireman falling down the stairwell — the actors had no idea this would happen. All of the stress put on the actors made for very genuine reactions, which in turn makes the film feel like a real recording of a terrifying incident.
The film also doesn’t have a soundtrack, or any music for that matter, which further adds to the realism. The cuts in the film are made to feel natural and organic — there are parts where the cameraman is simply not filming and turns off the camera. Everything feels very real and very natural, which makes this a great found-footage horror film.
And the horror! The plot is actually terrifying. Television reporter, Ángela (Manuela Velasco), and her cameraman, Pablo (Pablo Rosso), are following two firemen, Manu (Ferran Terraza) and Álex (David Vert), on a call to an apartment building. At the apartment, the residents are gathered downstairs because one of the ladies that lives there won’t come out of her apartment. When they investigate, the woman attacks aggressively. Soon after, the building is thrown into quarantine; like the scary quarantine, like you’ll be killed if you even attempt to leave quarantine. I can think of few things scarier than being trapped, with no information as to why you can’t leave, with a building full of infected, ravenous, aggressive people. That’s like being trapped in a haunted house where the actors keep coming after you with no respite.
If this plot sounds familiar, that’s because of Quarantine, the American remake of [REC]. I saw “Quarantine” long before I got around to watching [REC] and I must say that [REC], as most originals are, is far better than its remake. Seriously. Do yourself a favor and go watch [REC]. You’ll thank me later.