[Rec] - DVD Review

'largely a missed opportunity with much of the tension squandered into generic arguments between a group of people in an extreme situation'

With Timecrimes, The Orphanage and the two [Rec] films, Spanish horror has enjoyed a rather golden few years of good reviews and positive audience reaction to its output. [Rec] in particular has been at the forefront of this with glowing critical praise from horror fans and print critics alike, a Hollywood remake in Quarantine and a sequel which seems to have garnered similarly positive results.

Which, to me is all a bit of a mystery because besides an above average setup and initial concept, I found [Rec] to largely be a missed opportunity with much of the tension squandered into generic arguments between a group of people in an extreme situation. For a horror film that promises you will 'Experience Fear' on its DVD case and which has apparently been described as 'the scariest film ever' (yes, that old chestnut), I jumped only once and, despite some tense moments, initially got the feeling from Ángela (Manuela Velasco), our main protagonist, that everything was going to be alright in the end.

This isn't bravado speaking (I thought The Orphanage was both fantastic and terrifying and jumped several times) or even the voice of a seasoned horror fan but more that of someone who perhaps knew what to expect from [Rec] and received nothing to disrupt those expectations. The early moments, slow and mundane with Velasco reporting as if at the scene of a 'normal' incident, are tense because we know something is about to shock us. Then it does. We also suspect similar things when our plucky heroes make it into an apartment block to confront a sick woman or when a character tries to get close to a decidedly evil-looking little girl. We know it won't end well and, lo and behold, it doesn't.

On the positive side, Velasco's performance was fairly strong and certainly enough to maintain my interest and I found her Ángela to be a character that was feisty enough to not be a damsel in distress but sympathetic enough to cheer for. The general premise of the claustrophobic apartment building too, is made for horror excitement and I shall certainly search out [Rec] 2 out of base level curiosity and as a complimentary piece to a finale which tries to draw in more than it has time to properly develop. For this first effort though, I didn't have my horror boundaries expanded in the same way as, say, when watching The Orphanage, nor did I ever feel that this was a film that added something unexpected or fresh to the genre in the way that that film did so successfully.

Look further...

'The ending is ridiculously scary; in fact, it’s one of the creepiest and most intense moments I’ve seen in any horror film' - Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies


  1. I think between Rec and Quarantine there is a great movie. There are things that the original does better and things that the remake does better but on a whole I have to agree with the praise of this movie. I saw the American one first not expecting anything and was shocked by how scary it really was so I backtracked and found that, although basically the same, Rec was pretty scary too. That ending will certainly haunt me for many years to come.

  2. I haven't seen QUARANTINE but I can't say I'm desperate to either. I think the end is a tad of a cop out, very convenient etc. I know there's loads of people who love it so I'm in the minority but I just wasn't as impressed as I wanted to be.

  3. I'm a big fan of The Orphanage and am planning on watching this soon. I'm not sure about it yet though. We'll see.

  4. I love THE ORPHANAGE and although it got good reviews I think they deserved to be even better: I don't think it's far off being a masterpiece. This is still just about worth a watch but it's nowhere near that level of filmmaking in my opinion.