MAY 26, 2008
Last night I was playing Halo with some fellow horror movie guys, and one of them asked me if I had seen [Rec]. I hadn’t, so it was a bit odd when I went over a different friend’s house today and he put it on for a post barbecue movie. I only wish the first friend had asked me if I had ever won the lottery, or nailed Rachel Nichols. Could have truly been a Memorial Day.
Anyway, he had thrown me off a bit by saying that it’s a movie in which the last 5 minutes are the best part. Therefore, I was assuming that it was a slow burn, that nothing happened at all for the first hour and twenty minutes. So I was happy to see that the first zombie attack happens about 15-20 minutes in, and that the pace more or less kept up (or got more intense) as the film went on. The story is told almost in real time, in fact, which makes it even more impressive (real time usually equals, well, nothing happening until the last five minutes).
Like all “found footage” movies, a big part of whether or not it works is providing a reasonable excuse for the character(s) to keep filming. Here, it’s the reporters’ disdain for the way that the cops are treating them (quarantining them in an apartment building, not telling them why, etc) that keeps them rolling – they want proof of how they were treated. It gets a bit odd when the zombies begin attacking in greater numbers (the cops more or less all dead by now) that they keep rolling, but that fabled final five minutes (more like 10 I think) again gives a good enough reason – the electricity goes out and they use the camera’s night vision to see. Works for me, though I usually don’t mind the rather illogical actions of the characters in these movies. I want to make a found footage movie in which as soon as the horror shit begins, the camera is thrown to the ground and you see fucking NOTHING for the next 40 minutes. And then I come back on camera, as myself, and say “Fuck you! If we don’t film there’s no movie!”
Unlike Diary of the Dead, it’s actually shot like someone shooting under heavy distress. Yes, that means shaki-cam and “what am I looking at” compositions, but you also won’t ever forget the type of movie you are watching (in Diary, I actually forgot it was “documentary footage” on more than one occasion, because Romero shot it quite beautifully). Also, strange for one of these movies, all of the footage is shot by one person, the news show’s cameraman, whose face we never actually see. It helps maintain the pace and tension, and also spares us from a scene in which we see the characters film each other filming.
As for that last five minutes? Yeah, it’s great. Terrifying in fact. However, an explanation for the zombie’s origin is shoehorned in, and not only does it kind of slow the film down at a really odd time, but it’s a lame explanation as well. Apparently the upcoming US remake changes this backstory (though it’s otherwise a shot for shot remake, from what I hear), so that’s good.
Then again, maybe the subtitles just made something else up, because it was the worst subtitling job I’ve ever seen (along with Botched’s idiotic ‘funny’ subtitles, this makes four films in a single week that were dampened by their subs. Everyone needs to watch Night Watch and see how it’s done!). In addition to numerous spelling errors and bizarre symbols on the head and tail of certain lines, it was also just badly translated to boot. At one point the character clearly says “Muy bien.” (“Very good.”) but the subs offer “Let’s go.” They also, like Frontière(s), often seem like they were run through a thesaurus beforehand, which results in characters saying things like “Use your agility!”. They are also confusingly presented and not in sync with the dialogue, which makes it hard to even tell who is saying what. And I can only assume that the person was saying ‘Keep filming, mother fucker!” and not “Keep filming for your fucking mother!”
Not sure when it’s coming out (I assume before the remake hits theaters, but who knows), but if you’re not sick of found footage yet, then you should dig it. It’s simple and fast, and that’s always a plus with me.
What say you?