[SPOILER ALERT] [*REC] [SPOILER ALERT]
It’s day five of the Horror Movie Marathon! For the first time this month, we’ve paid to see a movie! It’s a cool, wet fall evening as we settle in to watch our movie. I don’t know anything about it, but I’m excited to see it has high ratings.
[*REC] is rated R and is available on Amazon. At the time of our viewing, it has the following online ratings:
IMDB rating 7.5/10
Metacritic rating not available
Rotten Tomatoes 90% critics, 81% audience
This is a short movie, at only 78 minutes. We both take notes throughout the movie and send our chosen questions to one another via Google Docs afterward. Below, you can find his responses to my questions. He’s posting my responses to his questions here, on his website.
Solee: You picked this movie out, so I didn’t know what to expect. Did you know what kind of movie this was going in?
Mikey: Yes, this is a movie I’ve been trying to see for years, probably since the first round of Halloween reviews in 2011. People have often said it’s the scariest movie out there, or the best found footage movie. All that seems like the thing for me!
Solee: The whole movie started with an investigative reporter shadowing firefighters for her TV show. At what point did the movie switch from plausible to fantastical for you?
Mikey: The minute she opened her dubbed mouth! But to be kind and ignore el elefante en el cuarto, I will say it was reasonable even after the old lady was biting people. I think something about how the quarantine started was just not believable. No warning, everything just sealed in. The tone of the actual fire station stuff didn’t really seem super real to me, but it was “raw footage”, and I have to think that if they had edited into a real show of that sort, it would’ve made sense. Plus not have it dubbed. Her questions seemed so pointless, and I think if that were done via real human banter instead of actors doing voice-over in a studio, it would’ve felt a lot better.
If I haven’t said it enough, I’m very disappointed we got stuck (and paid real American dollars! Three of them!) with a dubbed version of this movie.
Solee: Did you immediately understand why they were being quarantined? If not, what did you think was happening?
Mikey: Yes… I already knew it was a zombie movie beforehand, so it made sense to me!
Solee: Was the acting as horrible as it seemed? Or was that a side-effect of the horrific dubbing?
Mikey: I think the dubbing makes it nearly impossible to even guess how good the acting is. I’m sure even the screams and such were dubbed (otherwise they wouldn’t match the voice actor’s voices, right?), so you lose almost every bit of ‘reality’ in the acting. I’m so mad about that dubbing.
Solee: I really struggled with the investigative reporter piece of this storyline. The main character, the journalist, was openly derisive about the firefighters in the early parts of the movie. She clearly thought her assignment was a waste of time. And once things started to go sideways, she was much more concerned about getting the story than anything else. The immediate needs of the few seem to take a back seat to the greater good of “informing the people”. (That’s giving her a lot of credit and assuming she’s not just hoping to get her 15 minutes of fame with some scandalous footage.) What are your thoughts on the idea that it’s necessary for some people to simply record events as they happen as opposed to taking action in times of crisis?
Mikey: There’s something to be said for the idea that each person has a specific role to play – if everybody in the real world just dropped everything and helped care for the sick, for example, that might be great for disease, but we’d lose so much else about our world, not just infrastructure and roads not being worked on, but also (thanks to journalists) the record of how they helped and the lessons learned. Our future would be harmed. So I think there is something to the classic journalistic ideal of “the story must be told”, but when the rubber meets the road, it’s pretty aggravating to see journalists just getting in the way of people who are trying to do really important life-saving work. It does make them look like jerks. I mean, realistically, an after-the-fact accounting of these events pieced together by forensic experts is probably vastly more useful to the world than live video of people running around and screaming. We’ve seen horror movies, we know what that looks like.
Solee: There were definitely plenty of parts in this movie that left me wondering what on earth was happening. I’d like to hear your HALF-TIME ANALYSIS now: Do you feel like you understand what’s happening at this point? Do you feel like you know where the movie is going? If so, how confident are you in your predictions?
Mikey: Sure, it’s obvious what’s up! Quarantine! Zombies! The little girl with ‘tonsilitis’ is a zombie-to-be! My prediction (which is… oh, 55% confident) is that the reporter girl will be the sole survivor, and she will escape the building, with her cameraman being the last one to die, handing the camera to her in his last moments so she can continue filming her escape (the #1 priority in any found footage movie is the camera! You don’t have a movie without it!). I think the final “twist” at the end of the movie will be some sort of clue that the zombie plague has spread to the world at large – whether that’s an overview shot of the city burning, or something small like one person in the street looking sick and hungry.
Solee: I guess that would depend on what the authorities manage. The skinny cop spends a lot of time trying to convince the others that he’s the voice of authority within the quarantined building. This highlighted the extreme difference between having a title of authority and actually being the authority figure in a situation. Where does true authority come from? Who was the real authority in that building?
Mikey: Having an officially designated position of power does a lot for you, and I think in non-crazy times, people would’ve listened to him just fine. But once it comes down to a crazy situation, the rules no longer apply, and you’re going to need real power. You notice when he finally gets fed up and pulls his gun on the bickering people, they calmed right down and started listening! When you can’t get power from society, you have to fall back on the old classics.
I don’t think it really felt like anybody was in control, though the one surviving firefighter did take charge to a small extent (not much more than the reporter herself, really!). It was just a bunch of people running around crazy with less group control than a tribe on Survivor.
Solee: I thought the buff firefighter was definitely the “in charge” guy. He had that sort of calm in an emergency that people gravitate to as a leader. We’ve seen a lot of ghost movies this month. It’s kind of fun to branch out to other monster types. If you were to rank the more traditional “monsters” in horror – vampire, zombie, alien, mutated creature, werewolf, etc – from favorite to least favorite, where would zombies fall for you?
Mikey: Zombies are so tricky because they’re more of a force of nature, a background to the story, than they are a monster. As a monster, they’re stupid – just slow (or fast) people that want to bite you. They have no fun elements at all. But they do lend to a lot of interesting stories about plagues and trapped people. Unfortunately, you mention all those others and it occurs to me that I haven’t seen any of them in such a long time… it feels like zombies are all we have now! And ghosts.
I like ghosts the most. Then there are aliens – since they open up the entire world of space-based sci-fi, they are totally awesome. There are an infinite number of amazing stories that aliens bring you. Then “mutated creatures” because they’re just the basis for no end of possible stories, from Godzilla to parasitic mind control stories (could be aliens too, lots of overlap there). Then zombies for the benefits I mentioned, despite their boredom. I guess vampires have the potential to be interesting though usually are just silly. Werewolves are almost always ridiculous! They are probably the silliest option. Thinking about it, pretty much any werewolf story would probably be more interesting if it were about a serial killer who just acts normal most of the time and then goes out killing during the full moon.
Solee: We’ve seen several found footage movies. They’ve left me wondering, do all video cameras come equipped with night vision or is it just crazy coincidence that all found footage cameras happen to have this feature?
Mikey: My iPhone does not. But you don’t see me hunting ghosts with my iPhone, do you? It’s just standard practice in the video industry: if you are pursuing ghosts or zombies (or are interviewing firefighters, who we all know are likely to encounter zombies), you come packing night vision.
Solee: It certainly came in handy, although not quite handy enough. Let’s talk about your POST-GAME ANALYSIS:
What was the final body count?
Mikey: It became very hard to tell with everybody getting back up and chewing on others. What I wrote down was 14 dead, but I’m not sure if I kept that going up until the end… that may exclude the last two deaths, and we can probably assume all the people inside the building ended up dead which I think adds a good 4 or 5 to my total. Plus the mysterious missing sick grandpa.
Solee: Yeah… what the heck happened to him? Sequel, maybe? Were you scared at any point in the movie?
Mikey: Once the lights went out at the end, it definitely got scary. I liked that a lot. It suddenly improved the movie dramatically and I was very uncomfortable for the protagonists. What it reminds me of is a movie that really doesn’t get enough credit: Grave Encounters. That movie is mostly night vision (at least as I remember it…), and it is absolutely creepy beyond belief. Kind of the same thing as the last few minutes of this movie: lanky weird things stalking around in the dark, and people hoping not to run into them. It’s not a great movie by any means, but I remember it scaring me effectively.
The problem I did have with that end sequence though was that geographically, it didn’t make sense to me. What I could see was creepy, but I couldn’t piece together how it all made sense as a real series of events in that space. I also didn’t understand how the monster could possibly have hearing that bad, but hey, it could. Not everybody has good hearing, especially if they’re dead.
Solee: I totally lost the thread of the story after the lights went out. How accurate were your predictions?
Mikey: My predictions were pretty disastrous! On the plus side, I was right that the cameraman died right near the end and handed over the camera (well, sorta). The reporter didn’t need it for long, though. The twist with the demonic stuff (which I did not fully understand, for sure) took the movie to an entirely different place and got me more interested! Zombies are played out, but demon zombies are a nice little bit of pumpkin spice flavoring.
Solee: Finally, how would you rate this movie? Who should watch this movie and in what context?
Mikey: I was frankly surprised at how unimpressive this movie was, coming from the amazingly high reviews it has, relative to most horror movies. I can only attribute that to a kind of follow-on effect, where it made a big splash at some film festival and everybody wanted to be on board as appreciating the Next Big Thing. It really kind of feels like that – nobody expected this clever little movie to appear from Spain, so they kind of lavished it with praise.
That said, it’s not a bad movie! I just expected it to be amazing. The dubbing absolutely destroyed it, and I wish I could’ve seen it subtitled, but I will say that this is a 3.5/5 movie. It really wasn’t particularly interesting (but was watchable) up until they entered the attic, at which point it suddenly became downright intriguing, and eventually really scary.
Pretty much the polar opposite of most of the movies we’ve seen, which were interesting up until they fell apart in the end! Perhaps the fact that this movie leaves you with final moments that are scary and interesting is what led to the critical acclaim.
Solee: I hear there is a sequel. If we watch that, we should make sure to get the subtitled version. Maybe we should add that to our watch list for later this month. Tomorrow we’re watching The Witch, which has also been given high ratings and is supposed to be very scary.