Ever have a person describe a film to you and your response at first is “I’ve seen that!” Later you realize that you saw the bigger budget Hollywood remake of the original foreign film. Odds are in 2009 someone was talking about a found footage horror film about a TV reporter trapped in an apartment building with mutated people attacking, you were thinking Quarantine starring Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter). You saw that in the theater in 2008. But it turns out they might have been talking about [REC] which came out in Spain in 2007, but was released on DVD in 2009. While the American remake did well at the box office, its forgettable sequel was jettisoned onto home video and left to rot. Luckily the Spanish original birthed three equally captivating and horrific sequels that have now been boxed together for a perfect Spooky Season marathon.
[Rec] (2007 – 78 minutes) starts off so simple and nice. Reporter Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman Pablo are just doing a goofy piece about what it’s like to be a Barcelona firefighter on the night shift. It seems like fun when a call comes into the fire station. Angela and Pablo hope in the fire engine and join in on the rescue of an old lady that screamed. The neighbors in the apartment building called 911 (or whatever they use in Spain). The fire fights bust into the apartment and find the old lady in her underwear and covered in blood. Things go mad quick when the old woman eats the throat of one of her rescuers. Something is horribly wrong with the tenants. In barely an hour Angela, Pablo and the firefighters have to figure out how to save their own lives from something worse than a five alarm blaze.
The key to the whole film is that Velasco looks and acts like a real TV reporter assigned the human interest stories and not an actress playing a reporter. The moments when she’s waiting for her cameraman to set up the shot creates the relaxed nature. You don’t sense her acting so much as watch her doing her work for the TV channel. Her natural ability in the role sets up the film and the nightmare. The fact that the film relies on the “raw video” from Pablo’s camera increases the tension since terrors hit fast and from all around. Instead of the usual “you know what I’d do” reaction, [REC] gives you just enough time to let your butt get back on the seat before the next attack.
[REC] 2 (2009 – 85 minutes) is a sequel that does exactly what’s needed to keep this horror pumping through your veins. The movie starts right when the original ended except they’re sending new people into the apartment building. Unlike the firemen, this time it’s the GEO which is the Spanish version of elite tactical team that handles terrorist attacks and VIP protection. They are armed to the gills with weapons ready to get inside and put an end to the attacks. Along with them is Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor) from the Ministry of Health. This film takes advantage of security cameras on the GEO squad. Instead of one view, we get multiple angles until the angles go bad. A lot gets revealed during the film about what’s making the tenants turn into nightmares and who people real are on this rescue mission. The film scores with the mix of horror and bullets.
REC 3: Génesis (2012 – 81 minutes) does not take place in the apartment building instead you are invited to the greatest day in a couple’s relationship. The movie begins as sweetly as a wedding video. Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martín) are getting married and it’s a sight to behold. The reception in a huge mansion is going great until an uncle who had mentioned he was recently bitten by a dog pukes. What’s puking at a wedding? Normally that makes a funny outtake in a wedding video. But the uncle falls off a balcony, bites his wife and spews blood all over the other guests, the party is over. Clara is not happy that her perfect day has been ruined. This is the most nightmarish wedding video that doesn’t feature me as the groom. About halfway through the film, the found footage element abruptly stops and we get a normal omnipresent camera.
[REC] 4: APOCALYPSE (2014 – 95 minutes) takes the action to the sea. First the action wraps up the end of [REC] 2. The army takes over the mission in an extreme way. Angela (Manuela Velasco) meets a soldier, but before too much develops things go black. When she wakes up, she’s in a test laboratory on the high seas along with a woman that survived the wedding of [REC] 3. This is a high security boat rigged to blow if things go wrong during the investigation of what turned people into mutants. Angela discovers she’s clear of any infection which should be a bother to all since we know what happened in [REC]2. The scientists are more concerned with infecting monkeys which is where the problems get out of control. The record element in this film are the numerous security tapes, but for the most part it is filmed like a normal movie. This fourth entry brings the nightmare to somewhat of a closure.
Compared to a lot of horror movie series, [REC] is amazingly tight and fast. Three of the four films basically start when the others begin so it’s not dragged out over weeks and months. You’re not stuck wondering “how are they going to bring it back this time?” You’re just running to the Blu-ray player to swap discs. Even the third film takes place in the same amount of time it takes to survive your friend’s wedding video. The Catholic element makes it feel like The Exorcist with more bullets than prayers. [REC] is brilliant and needs to run from sundown to sunrise during your horror marathon.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic for the first two films and 2.35:1 anamorphic for the final two. The transfers for all four are great. The audio is Spanish 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. The first movie has a English dub in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The dub is fine, but you miss out on Velasco’s voice going from chipper reporter to terrorized victim. The movies are subtitled in English.
Audio Commentary with Writers/Directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza is in Spanish with English subtitles. This works fine when you can watch the film with the English dub and read their comments. It’s like a multimedia project.
The Making Of [REC] (40:52) shows off the various camera rigs they used to play a TV station’s camera. They talk about how they wanted to give a new view of a horrific event. They talk about how the fluff piece about the firefighters sets up their characters when things go bad.
Crew Interviews (46:38) focuses on how they had to make it all look like it was coming from a single cameraman capturing the action.
Extended Scenes (30:05) includes Angela interviewing people stuck inside the apartment building.
Deleted Scenes (3:13) is Angela losing it and a hallway of nails.
Behind The Scenes Footage (44:27) has the directors working out a scene as a resident is eating away on a character. The resident wants to make sure she’s gnawing on the right part of the special effect.
Teaser (1:57) seems to be what was used to sell the film to investors and distributors. This short test version of the film features two firefighters finding a girl zombie in an apartment.
Theatrical Trailers (3:09) reworks the teaser for the first one. Seems to answer the question of how to you make a trailer that scares without giving away the big frights.
TV Spots (1:27) asks the big question: Do you dare?
Still Gallery (4:59) gets a view of the apartment.
Audio Commentary with Writers/Directors Jaume Balagueró And Paco Plaza is in Spanish With English subtitles. This makes me feel really bad that I did so poorly in Spanish 101.
The Making of [REC] 2 – In An Affected World (118:14) goes deep into the sequel and how the two directors worked on the stages of the film. They didn’t have a sequel in mind after making [REC], but after hitting the festival tour, they realized people wanted more. They decided on the Alien and Aliens idea of making the sequel have more action than tension.
Behind The Scenes (55:37) takes us deeper into the making of the scene where the infected bust in through the ceiling. It takes a lot to make a few minutes of finished film.
Deleted Scenes (4:07) includes more of the cops storming the hallway and finding dead member and a body handcuffed.
Extended Scenes (3:35) is more of the love doll decoy.
A Walkthrough Of The Set (9:09) gives us a sense of the apartment building. They talk of creating more spaces like a new level of a video game.
[REC] 2 On Tour (8:58) is the fun of festivals in Venice and Sitges. This gives you a little bit of what it takes to sell a picture.
Sitges Film Festival Press Conference (11:24) has the directors, cast and producer at the conference table. It’s subtitled in English.
Theatrical Trailers (4:14) promises to take us back in the apartment. The steps are covered in blood.
TV Spots (0:59) promises a bigger battle with the infected inside the apartment. Do you dare come back?
Still Gallery (3:32) shots from the battle. What do you think the rent is on a two bedroom apartment there?
[REC] 3: GENESIS
[REC] 3: Genesis – Preparing A Bloody Wedding (117:45) goes into how directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza decided to make two more [REC] movies with each directing their own. [REC] 3: Genesis was Paco’s baby. He speaks about what went into setting the film up as found wedding footage and then going to normal camera coverage.
The Making Of [REC] 3 (23:12) comes off as a shorter version of the longer documentary.
Deleted Scenes (23:58) presents the lost moments in the wedding video format. Although when things go bad, we get the more traditional deleted moments. Worth watching to get an extra glimpse of the happy couple.
Outtakes (2:55) are a few flubs.
Theatrical Trailers (5:01) highlights the dream wedding aspect before reception went evil. “Don’t ever get married,” says a guest. Better advice – don’t go to weddings! Another trailer has the cheese postcard video with the images just getting worse. This is worth studying.
TV Spots (1:53) start sweet and go straight into chaos.
Still Gallery (4:11) it was such a pretty wedding.
[REC] 4: APOCALYPSE
The Making Of [REC] 4: APOCALYPSE (27:58) explains how they shot on a boat and on sets.
Theatrical Trailers (8:05) take us back to when it began with a simple fluff piece about fireman working the night shift and went to Hell overnight. There’s plenty of teasing on the ship.
TV Spot (0:36) sets up the scares.
Still Gallery (4:55) has shots from the ship.
Shout! Factory presents The [REC] Collection. Directed by Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza. Starring: Manuela Velasco, Ferrán Terraza, Jonathan Mellor, Oscar Sánchez Zafra, Leticia Dolera, Diego Martín, Paco Manzanedo, Hector Colome & Ismael Fritschi. Rated: R Rated. Boxset Contents: 4 films on 4 Blu-ray discs. Released: September 25, 2018.
Tags: Rec, Scream Factory