Friday, February 6, 2009

REC - Blair Witch meets George Romero?

Nothing kicks ass like a good workout for the heart. Um, not by normal cardiac workout. What constitutes one is a good jolt of kick by getting thrilled or scared the bejeezus out of your ass. I always thought the video game medium is more scarier than movies when it comes to deliver good scares. You name it; Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Fatal Frame series. Instead of scares being delivered by whims and from a fixed perspective set by a so-called director who supposedly knows how to deliver the goods, most of the time its a let down. Not so in an interactive horror game - explore the vast but unseen heavily misted stretches in the woods or claustrophobic, dark often very-very dimly lit corridors in a abandoned storehouse/mansion/apartment/etc? The gamer is given free will to get jolted in different ways possible, either from getting chased by a tyrant with a hugeass chainsaw/hammer or risk getting gang-raped by a horde of zombies.

Not to say the film medium is totally flawed. I've seen really good films that even made me switch on lights to sleep at night after watching it; Ju-On series, The Shining, Blair Witch to name a few. The really good movie experience is akin to being chained on a chair being forced to watch a live corpse being dissected to its bare bones. REC is but one example.

The makers of this film doesn't give you any pretentious bullshit, hence you won't find anything groundbreaking or "original" to top Blair Witch Project the film that gave birth to "first-person documentary" style of filming. There is no room for "plot development" and all characters basically whine and yell at each other most of the time. Hence I do not understand stupid critics who denigrates this film based on those criterias, like the one from Variety:

Premise of plot is simple, no need for fancy side-stories about a protagonist's hidden secret past or an excuse for a stupid sex scene (typical in slasher movies) despite the fact the female protagonist is hot. Female reporter covers a typical day of a firefighter for a weekly documentary, which leads her and cameraman to an apartment after a distress call about an old lady getting stuck in an apartment. Over there, shit happens when the old lady attacks one of the policemen, then in an attempt to secure help the apartment is sealed off by authorities fearing an epidemic outbreak. The reporter and cameramen, trapped with fireman, a camera-phobic cop and distressed tenants have to find a way out of there while things in the apartment is getting ugly.

This movie is seriously only Blair Witch with zombies. Thus if you have watched it before, the good thing it retained is the indie-feel, real budget film making and quality without fancy shit like CGI, orchestra and fancy lighting. While Blair Witch is basically the fear of what we cannot see, REC basically ramp things up with that plus the fear with things we can see, hence the zombies.

And why did I mentioned video games in first paragraph? The penthouse as you will see later in the film is an obvious homage to the Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Only gamers will understand what I mean and I don't think that would spoil the sheer awesomeness of this movie. The only flaw is that the movie is too short. I thought the last 10 minutes could be stretched a little more. But then that would be too much of a good thing to finally give way to an actual heart attack. It is that terrifying.

As usual if a horror movie from a non-Hollywood scores big by satiating the lust of screen masochists, its guaranteed for a remake - from Hollywood. However it is also an unwritten rule that a superior remake is like finding speck of gold in Saharan desert. So if you come across the title "Quarantine" but have yet to watch this movie for Chrissakes give it a pass. Even if reading subtitle is a chore, its just a little chore compared to ruining yourself watching an inferior Hollywood remake. Best experienced lights off, after midnight, maximum effect; alone.