Back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the horror genre was dominated by so-called ‘found footage’. While the subgenre was certainly birthed a lot earlier, films like Paranormal Activity, As Above So Below and Chernobyl Diaries were everywhere. But without a doubt, the finest – and most harrowing – example of this new style of horror filmmaking was Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s unforgettable [•REC]. Now re-released on Blu-ray thanks to Arrow Video, there’s no better time to spend another evening with Ángela (Manuela Velasco) and cameraman Pablo (Pablo Rosso).
Although perhaps hitting a little too close to home now, the film follows a fateful night as a horrifying new virus strain tears through an apartment building as a TV crew follows a group of firefighters on what should’ve been a quiet night. As the building is locked down, tensions run high and fear takes hold…and the body count rises. The brief 78-minute film moves along at a brisk pace and consistently ratchets up the tension to a point where it is genuinely quite difficult to even breathe from the fear the film instils in the viewer.[•REC] is a genuinely horrifying film that holds up today as not only the finest example of the found footage subgenre but one of the best horror films of the millennium. It is an unforgettable and visceral viewing experience that often feels like an assault on the senses thanks to the panicked handheld camerawork, horrifying sequences and near-constant screaming from the characters. [•REC] is not an enjoyable watch by any stretch, but one that reminds the viewer what the horror genre is capable of when it comes to portraying relentless, harrowing terror. As a piece of horror filmmaking, it is flawless.
The film’s performances and delivery are remarkable, lending a feeling of authenticity to proceedings that makes the horrors feel all the more real. Manuela Velasco, who would later return in two of the film’s three sequels, is a particular revelation in the lead role of Ángela Vidal, the TV journalist who presents the fateful night to her viewers. But the true star of the film is the atmosphere, presented without any music or score and pulling us into the dark apartment building of unspeakable horrors. The film’s final ten minutes in the building’s penthouse is among horror’s most frightening climaxes.
This new release from Arrow Video combines two viewing options of the film – the 24fps theatrical version at 78 minutes or the 25fps production version at 75 mins, along with a staggering array of special features, with a new audio commentary alongside a wealth of archival features including interviews, featurettes and promotional material. Fans of the acclaimed film will be thrilled with this definitive release of one of the most harrowing horror movies of the millennium.