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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jaume Balaguerů, Paco Plaza
Cast:
Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge Serrano, Pablo Rosso, David Vert, Vicente Gil, Martha Carbonell, Carlos Vicente
Writing Credits:
Jaume Balaguerů, Luis Berdejo, Paco Plaza

Tagline:
One Witness. One Camera.

Synopsis:
From the Executive Producers who brought you Quarantine, comes the movie that inspired the terror. A beautiful TV reporter (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman are doing a routine interview at a local fire station when an emergency call comes in. Accompanying the firefighters to a nearby apartment, the news team begins recording the bloodcurdling screams coming from inside an elderly woman's unit. After authorities seal off the building to contain the threat, the news crew, firefighters and residents are trapped to face a lethal terror inside. With the camera running, nothing may survive but the film itself.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 78 min.
Price: $24.96
Release Date: 7/14/09

Bonus:
• ď[REC]: Making ofĒ Featurette
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


[REC] (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 8, 2009)

Recently remade as the inconsistent Quarantine, we go back to the source with 2007ís Spanish-made [REC]. Both films feature identical stories. [REC] presents a TV news team that follows a fire crew. Reporter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and cameraman Pablo (Pablo Rosso) concentrate on firefighters Manu (Ferran Terraza) and Alex (David Vert).

After a slow night, they finally get a call for a medical emergency in an apartment building. A Mrs. Izquierdo (Martha Carbonell) has been acting erratically, and her oddness takes a dark turn when she chomps on a cop. This sets a lot of freaky events into play, and the folks in the building end up locked inside by the authorities. We follow the terror that follows as plenty of mayhem ensues.

If you compare that synopses to my write-up of Quarantine, youíll see theyíre virtually the same. Thatís because the two movies are virtually identical. Oh, the American version adds a bit more character development; for instance, we get to know the firefighters better. Nonetheless, eliminate the language differences and youíll essentially have the same movie.

Since I watched Quarantine first, this factor had a negative impact on my enjoyment of [REC]. After all, itís only been about five months since I watched the remake, so I remembered it well. If Iíd waited a few years, my memories mightíve faded enough to allow [REC] to seem fresh, but after a mere five months, I experienced a whole lot of dťjŗ vu.

Which certainly isnít the fault of those who made [REC]. Indeed, if Iíd watched them in the order of their creation/theatrical release, Quarantine wouldíve been the redundant one. Obviously the American filmmakers took the original material and essentially just copied it. Yes, they changed some elements, but the fact remains that they didnít exactly reinvent that particular wheel.

Perhaps this means my comments about Quarantine should apply here. I enjoyed the remake more than the original because of the surprise factor. Like most horror movies, [REC] requires a certain level of shock to work. When you know where the scares will occur, the film loses a lot of its strength.

And since both movies used identical fright tactics Ė all at virtually the same moments Ė I was never caught off-guard by [REC]. Again, this isnít the fault of the [REC] filmmakers; they invented the thing!

But it does mean that the positives I took from Quarantine should also apply to [REC] - if Iíd seen it first. I find it hard to judge the original film due to this lack of surprise, but Iím sure it works just as well Ė if not better Ė than the remake.

Neither gives us anything particularly unique in the world of zombie flicks. The ďon the flyĒ/semi-real time photography gives the material a moderate spin, though that technique is getting old. I liked it in Cloverfield and think it can work, but itís becoming a case of diminishing returns; itís no longer especially creative, and the flaws that come with the format seem more obvious.

One notable problem for some: motion sickness. Though both are handheld, I think [REC] seems even jerkier than Quarantine. While Iím susceptible to motion sickness on the big screen, Iím usually fine at home. However, [REC] gave me a bit of a headache, so if motion sickness is a concern for you, beware.

Objectively, [REC] does offer a pretty good horror experience. The film plays in a reasonably real way, as the actors fill their roles well and keep us in the moment. The super-jerky camerawork becomes a distraction; even in these circumstances, shouldnít a professional cameraman have better control? Nonetheless, the techniques add some urgency to matters and draw us into the material.

If you like horror flicks and never saw Quarantine, then [REC] is definitely worth a look. If you did already view the remake, though, you probably wonít get much from the original. The two movies are just too similar for both to become enjoyable.


The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

[REC] appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Given the nature of the production, I didnít expect great visuals, but even so, the transfer disappointed.

Sharpness was a definite issue. Close-ups looked reasonably concise, though even those images could be pixelated and blocky. Wider shots looked worse, as they suffered from softness and messiness. Notable edge enhancement appeared at times, and the movie suffered from some jagged edges. No source flaws occurred, though the film took on a grainy appearance due to the filming conditions.

Colors were lackluster, though they werenít bad given the shooting circumstances. The movie took on a dull brown tone much of the time, and that was an artifact of the video shots and the bland apartment complex setting. The DVD didnít have many opportunities to demonstrate different hues, so they remained ordinary.

Blacks were also mediocre. Those elements appeared somewhat brown and flat. Shadows were erratic and usually seemed somewhat dense and thick. Again, much of this reflected the shooting conditions, so some of the concerns were inevitable. Nonetheless, the movie remained unattractive and deserved only a ďC-ď.

Though the DVD also includes a dubbed English version, I went with the filmís original Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. It seemed acceptable for this material. Logically the audio shouldíve remained essentially monaural since itís supposed to come from the source camera. However, as was the case with Quarantine and Cloverfield, the filmmakers decided to take moderate auditory liberties and open up the soundfield.

At least a little, that is. The [REC] soundscape didnít go nuts in its use of the side and rear speakers. Most of the audio focused on general ambience; the apartment complex setting added a layer of creepiness throughout the film. Some action sequences brought out more prominent sounds, but these remained fairly subdued. Thereís not a showy sequence to be found here, and thatís probably the way it should be.

Audio quality seemed good. Speech was natural and concise, and effects showed acceptable range. They werenít terribly powerful, but again, that makes sense, as really slam-bang effects could feel unnatural. The film lacked music of any sort. This soundtrack was good enough for a ďB-ď.

By the way, I did occasionally sample the English dub and it left me unimpressed. The lines didnít match the mouth movements, and the voices didnít seem right for the parts. I think the original Spanish audio is definitely the way to go.

Donít expect much in terms of extras. We find a featurette simply called [REC]: Making Of. It runs 18 minutes, 28 seconds and provides comments from directors Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero, director of photography/actor Pablo Rosso, sound director Javier Mas, and actor Manuela Velasco. We learn about the projectís origins and story, its structure and filming techniques, sets, cast and performances, makeup effects and technical issues.

The best parts of the featurette come from the behind the scenes footage. We get some good glimpses of the shoot here, and we also find a brief deleted scene as well. The information from the various filmmakers adds some decent material as well, but we donít learn a ton of good facts. Still, the program offers enough useful tidbits to deserve a look.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Blu-ray Disc, Blood: The Last Vampire, and Messengers 2: The Scarecrow. These also appear in the Previews area along with promos for Quarantine, The Informers, The Grudge 3, Boogeyman 3, The Devilís Tomb, The Fifth Commandment, The Art of War III: Retribution, Assassination of a High School President, Vinyan and Fearnet.com. No trailer for [REC] appears here.

While it doesnít create a tremendously original and creative horror effort, [REC] does provide a reasonable amount of intrigue and good scares. Itís at least above average for its genre. The DVD offers problematic visuals as well as decent audio and insubstantial extras. Nothing about this disc impresses me, but the movieís worth a look for horror fans Ė especially those who didnít already see Quarantine, a nearly literal remake.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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