DVD Rating: ****1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Daniel Hooper's film review of [Rec]

This is a highly effective DVD package that does not attempt to hype the film, because there is no need. What the creative team of Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza have done is original and unique. How they achieved it is explained in the extras.

[REC] is a Spanish horror movie made by Spanish horror movie fans. Jaume and Paco admit being hooked on the genre since their teens. They are not natural collaborators, Jaume’s films being raw and immediate, Paco’s more styalised and fantastical. They met at a café and talked about what they liked, or didn’t, about cinematic horror and the idea came to them out of the blue. “We wanted to shake up the genre and make it a more intense experience,” Jaume says. After years of camp, torture and gore, they were determined to bring in a new element – realism. What starts in the style of a TV info doc, in which a flirtatious young reporter accompanies firemen in Barcelona through the night, ends in terror and chaos in a decayed apartment block full of insatiable zombies. Using a handheld camera and shooting in real time, the directors insisted that the actors did not know what to expect (“They never saw the script in its entirety”), which added to the atmosphere of anticipation and fear.

Copy picture

In order to achieve this, Jaume and Paco relied on an experienced, flexible crew. Two soundmen and the DoP are interviewed in depth. Juame talks of the film taking on a life of its own (“We were just the lion tamers") and Pablo Rosso, the DoP, compares it to a roller coaster ride. “It goes up and up and when it comes down there is no control and unleashes this chain of events”.

What made such a daring and audacious production possible was the fact that they were given a fortnight’s preparation, during which Rosso and the sound crew could organise, as far as possible, the forthcoming mayhem, pushing themselves to the limit of ingenuity and experimentation. Oriol Tarrago, the sound designer, recounts that “every zombie scream was named” and when one of them is shot in a narrow corridor, the gunfire had to be distorted and manipulated in order to create a roar that was loud enough to scare the pants off you.

The film takes so many risks, emphasising the degree of collaboration required from cast and crew. After watching Disc 2 in its entirety, the absence of actors’ voices is felt. What the directors put them through, especially the experience of not knowing what will happen tomorrow, would have benefited from an articulate response. Also, the seven extended scenes in The Cutting Room are very long, which only goes to show that the editor’s job requires the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon.

Otherwise, this is a DVD package well worth watching.

Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2008
Share this with others on...
[Rec] packshot
A news crew get trapped in an apartment block with a deadly virus and something else...
Amazon link

Product Code: SOF51206

Region: 2

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Making Of featurette; promotional gallery; interview with DoP Pablo Rosso; interview with sound designer Oriol Tarrago; interview with sound director Xavi Mas; interview with writer/directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza; The Cutting Room

Search database: