Posts Tagged ‘infection’

Year Released : 2010

Director : Mark McQueen

Cast : Craig Fairbrass, Myanna Buring, Danny Dyer, Jaime Murray, Shane Taylor, Shane Taylor, Bart Ruspoli, Craig Conway, Lisa McAllister and Colin Salmon

Being English I have a strong affection for many British horror films, including 28 Days Later, The Cottage, Tormented, Severance and Creep, but alternatively there are some awful ones as well, Night of the Living Dead : Resurrection, so whenever I find a horror from my home land then I do get somewhat excited.

After finding “Devil’s Playground” on Netflix I got the feeling that this was trying to achieve the same success that the aforementioned “28 Days Later” did given it’s raw appearing nature, but the cast doesn’t fill me with excitement or optimism.

This will turn out to either be great, or a pile of crap. I get the feeling I know which.

Plot

Cole (Fairbrass) is a problem solver for Peter (Salmon), the CEO of a major medical corporation. The company has tested a new drug on 30,000 volunteers, but it caused major medical issues for the vast majority of them and now Peter is determined to get to the bottom of it so he can avoid being sued, but whilst examining one of the infected he is bitten, as is Cole. Cole manages to obtain the last three vials of anti-virus that will hold off the infection 18 hours at a time.

To find a permanent cure, he knows that he will have to find the only volunteer who reported no side effects, Angela (McAllister). She herself is still trying to get over her husband Joe’s (Dyer) imprisonment for killing a teenager, although he is adamant that he did it in self defence.

Cole does eventually find her, as does Joe after he gets bail, and the trio end up working together with some other survivors in order to escape on a helicopter with limited space in east London, but the other survivors start to team up against them as they get paranoid thoughts about being left behind.

As good as “28 Days Later”, or even remotely unique?

There is not a chance in hell that anyone will watch this and think that it is on a level even close to that brilliant zombie-like (28 Days Later is not a zombie film) movie, or even the slightly less engaging and interesting sequel. The one thing that I will say is that I have never seen a zombie film that features so many of the infected knowing parkour.

Throughout the near 100 minute run tie is zombies running over and jumping over objects that they have purposefully gone towards to jump over, even though it would be considerably easier to simply go around, especially when they’re chasing food.

That isn’t the only oddity about this movie as there is a big plot hole at the beginning of the film. The company that produces the medication that eventually zombifies the population is getting sued by those who took it, but the problem with that is that they are volunteers and would almost certainly have signed paperwork that doesn’t make the company liable in the event of side-effects. I’ll grant you, it’s not a major plot hole, but right from the off it is starting to have a lack of sense.

Unfortunately the problems don’t stop there as most of the characters are horrendously one dimensional and aren’t built even slightly well. It becomes a bit tedious as you don’t feel any semblance of sadness when certain characters start dying. Their lack of intelligence doesn’t help with this either as they know that people who have been bitten will turn, but they keep them around anyway. These people are basically fodder for the zombies, and it is effectively natural selection in all of its glory.

I like to try to come up with at least one favourable comment per review, but unfortunately there isn’t really a lot that is going on here that is that exciting, or even remotely interesting. I was sat there late at night, bored by one dimensional characters and action that is so stop-start that you could easily turn it off and not feel remotely sorry about it.

There are some great British films out there. This isn’t one of them.

Summary

Full of characters that aren’t interesting, several relationships between actors played by people with no chemistry, and an overall boring story, “Devil’s Playground” is one of the least imaginative zombie films I’ve seen. It offers little new to the genre, and it is something that I’ll have completely forgotten about by the time I watch the next zombie film that I’ll review.

I am really struggling to come up with a single positive about it, and based on that I have to say that it is probably best if you miss this.

Year Released : 2014MV5BMTQ3NDE1MDgxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDg2NzA4MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_
Director : Turner Clay
Cast : Justin Ray, Jerod Meagher, Dennis Leech, Ron Hanks and Michael Taber.

So I’m finally coming to the end of my month of horror films leading up to Halloween and I’ve decided that one of the final ones will be one that’s been on my “Films I Want to Watch” playlist on Youtube for a while, zombie film Disaster L.A. I thought it looked reasonable but the reviews have been very negative and the score on IMDB is a pitiful 3.6/10 (at the time of writing).

However, I’ve decided to stick with it for the reason that I’ve reviewed plenty of films that have looked crap and have had poor ratings and been left surprised. I’m not going to lie, I get the feeling that it’s not going to be the case this time but you never know.

So let’s get on with it then, three days and three reviews to go and then I can sit and relax.

Plot

A group of friends has recently relocated to Los Angeles and they are all enjoying life in their new city, although slacker Turner (Meagher) is the only one who has failed to secure work. The group are at a party when the ex-girlfriend of John (Ray) turns up with her new boyfriend. The two get into an argument and she leaves.

Soon after the group sees a report stating that a meteor that had previously gone unnoticed will pass by the Earth, just avoiding it. When the meteor passes L.A becomes covered in a strange smog. Everything seems fine at first and the smog passes, although Adam (Taber) is now feeling very ill.

Reports start to reach the group of people being attacked around the city and the news is now advising them to stay indoors and not interact with anyone. The group witnesses first hand one of their friends turning and decide that they must leave as soon as possible, although John refuses to leave without checking his ex is fine.

What’s the worst that could happen?

DISASTER LA 3

Better than I was expecting?

No, definitely not. Disaster LA tries it’s hardest to come up with a relatively new take on the zombie apocalypse theme and whilst the “radiation from a comet” is a new one as far as I’m aware, the rest of the film is just so lackluster that you end up laughing more than feeling scared.

The film just looks terrible and is not hiding it’s low budget very well, for example, when the news of the new meteor/comet comes on the news (something which NASA somehow managed to miss apparently), they show you the moon and because it’s got such a low resolution they think they can get away with saying that it’s the comet/meteor and it blatantly isn’t.

That’s just one of a plethora of carelessness throughout the film, others include characters just glaring at the zombies when they are hurtling towards them, zombies literally coming out of nowhere in the middle of the car park (massive open space, clearly nothing around on the wide angle, and then a zombie appears as if they’ve been there all along), the mild indifference when they see each other being eaten, and two far more idiotic levels of disregard that I’m going to focus on now.

DISASTER LA 2

There is a scene where a character is being chased down stairs by a set of zombies and the very fact I can’t remember the name of that character should tell you all you need to know about how much I care about his fate. He opens the door and then stands on the other side, holding it in place whilst the zombies desperately try and get through, however, when he runs off it’s shown that the door was actually a push door from the side he was pushing against. The side he is on is the push side of a door, so pushing it would have completely the opposite impact of what he’s trying to achieve and would allow the zombies in easily, especially as he starts pushing against it well before the zombies that are coming down the stairs catch up to him…..and yet no-one involved in the film seems to have noticed this.

And then, about 20 minutes from the end, the surviving characters are driving through a car park before seeing a zombie, slamming their breaks on and panicking as they don’t want to run them over. They then shout at her to move out of their way, almost as if she is blocking the entire road, the only problem with that is that she isn’t at all. There is at least 25 feet either side of her so they could have easily driven around, avoiding hitting her whilst also getting away. Their car is then stolen after they stop, yet there was no need to stop as they don’t have any space in the car. It’s just so feckless about it’s own logic, and the characters are so incredibly stupid, that you stop caring about them.

I liken that scene to the one in Austin Powers where he is on a steam roller, a guard is terrified he is about to get run over and doesn’t move through fear…and yet the steam roller is still a fair distance away and is going at a snail’s pace. It’s the same level of character stupidity and there’s no horror in a film where people are supposedly trying to avoid death, but who’s every action seems almost designed to put them in danger.

The “horror” throughout feels unnecessarily forced, convoluted and most definitely not scary. It just doesn’t flow at any point and everything feels beyond forced, and because of this I struggled to enjoy the film on any level, and I can see why it’s got such a low rating on IMDB.

I wouldn’t even be so bothered if it hadn’t blatantly stolen a major plot point from Cloverfield. Before they claim that they didn’t, both films have characters that are trying to survive events caused by extra-terrestrial bodies after a party celebrating their relocation. Soon the ex-girlfriend turns up with her new boyfriend and the main character gets jealous. When the main plot of the story starts occurring, the characters know that they must leave the now army-filled and quarantined city as possible, but the main character must go into an apartment building and find his ex-girlfriend. Later on in the film they are re-united and barely make it out alive. Granted, it’s not the main plot of either film, but that is a large portion of Cloverfield’s plot that Disaster L.A has stolen.

It is basically a lower budget, much crapper version of Cloverfield.

disaster LA

Summary

If you can switch off all common sense, logic and all that you’ve ever been taught about basic physics then you will probably enjoy Disaster L.A, but if you are capable of thought and reason then there’s not a chance that you will enjoy this film. It is beyond ridiculous.

When you make such stupid mistakes then you can’t be taken seriously, and even worse is having characters that look at a zombie that’s running towards then and seemingly not even be slightly alarmed.

If you’re going to watch this, do so in the knowledge that you’ll probably laugh at it’s stupidity more than being scared.

 

Year Released : 2015AQG7l3v
Director : Henry Hobson
Cast : Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson

I’m about to do something that I have never done before and that is review a film that has yet to be released in the UK that is due for a cinema release. Having friends in various film companies, I occasionally get DVDs of films that haven’t come out yet and I get to enjoy them long before most people do. For example, I first saw The Theory of Everything in October 2014, a few months before it was released. I chose not to review that film (although I wish I had as it was exceptional), but I’ve gone with this because at the moment it isn’t well known in the UK, that despite it’s prolific main star.

I’m not going to lie, I’m not a fan of Schwarzenegger. It’s very rare that I have watched a film of his and been impressed with his performance. The only exceptions that I can think of are as the Terminator in, well I’m sure you can guess which franchise that is. The reason for this is because due to his accent, Schwarzenegger does sound a bit robotic in terms of his speech and delivery of lines, so it felt like a good match.

I’m going into this film without really knowing a lot about the plot as I tend to find that’s working for me a lot recently. I didn’t even watch the trailer, which is very unusual for me, although I am guessing from the poster that this is something to do with zombies, I just hope that is isn’t filled with clichés.

I am also aware that this is considerably higher profile than films I normally review. Just to put people’s minds at ease, I won’t be switching to mainstream films permanently, although as I have previously mentioned, if I think that it’s worth including then I will, but it won’t be often.

Also, just to make it easier, I am going to refer to him throughout the review as Arnie because, quite frankly, Schwarzenegger is too complicated and long to write on a regular basis.

Plot

Wade (Arnie) finally finds her daughter, Maggie (Breslin) after several weeks of looking. He quickly realises that she has been bitten by someone who was infected with a deadly virus and he is advised to get her quarantined as soon as possible. He decides to ignore the advice and takes her home.

Whilst trying to fend off the infected that are trying to get into their house every now and then, Maggie’s condition continues to degrade and when an accident on a swing ends up in her index finger being severed. The infection is spreading and the only thing keeping her going is her relationship with Wade and her friends, all of whom are also infected.

How long can she last before she succumbs her hunger for flesh?

602

So, is it worth the watch when it’s released at the cinema?

Well, it’s hard to say as after watching it, it doesn’t seem like a cinema type film. It’s almost one that would be best if it went straight to DVD. In many ways I liken it to similar film by the name of Carriers, staring Chris Pine. Carriers is a similar film in many ways that was also release at the cinema, but didn’t really feel like it should have been. Now, this might be because I am watching this at home rather than at a cinema but it just doesn’t feel like something that belongs in a cinema.

The film starts off exceptionally slow and not a lot is really happening. It takes a long time (relatively) to get past the logos that normally come at the beginning of a film. I can’t really put this in a way that will some it up better than saying it in a way that one of my favourite Youtube channels would say. So with that, as Cinema Sins would say, “68 seconds of logos” *ding*. Now, I know 68 seconds isn’t a long time but you’re just sat there waiting for them to end so you can actually watch the film, and it just takes a long, long time.

Even after that, it takes a while to get into the film and at the time of writing, I am nearly 20 minutes into the film and other than Wade taking Maggie home after she has gotten infected. Not a lot has happened.

Joely Richardson and Arnie share precisely no chemistry whatsoever. Richardson is one of the few actresses I actually find to be talented and she has great flexibility in terms of the roles she is capable of playing, but there is just nothing there with Arnie. The two seem like strangers that have been put together, and given that they’re supposed to be man and wife, that’s never a good thing.

Arnie isn’t given many lines and that works quite well for the most part. Whilst I don’t think he’s  a great actor, Arnie is great at looking ponderously into the middle distance and full of regret. The character spends most of his time in the movie doing pretty much exactly that. I think the film found the best way to use Arnie in his later years (the nice way of putting it) and there are long spells where he is not in the film at all.

Anold-Schwarzenegger-in-Maggie-movie

Abigail Breslin is her predictable self. Breslin, much like Dakota Fanning, has almost struck me as one of those child stars that has grown up believing all of the hype around them, that despite their talent being very limited. She is a bit bland as Maggie and I find it hard to really care about or feel sorry for a character that rarely shows and semblance of giving a shit about her situation. She gets infected in the very first scene (actual infection isn’t seen) and after that, for the most part, it doesn’t seem to impact her life at all, and I think this is down to Breslin’s uninspiring and unemotional portrayal.

It would seriously help Breslin if she showed emotion every now and then. Just before the hour mark one of her friends is telling her a sad story about a family member being killed and all Breslin can manage is a “do I give a fuck?” look on her face.

So onto the positives and the first is something that always bugs me in zombie style/post-apocalyptic films, everyone is always perfectly clean. For example, in the Resident Evil franchise, the character of Alice always finds time in between fighting the zombie hoards to change her hair style and colour on a regular basis. In all five of the films released to date, her hair is different in a major way to the previous entry.

Maggie doesn’t follow that trend though as everyone looks dirty and sweaty. Wade looks like he hasn’t had a shower in a long time and it reflects that in a post-apocalyptic world, there are far more important things that making yourself look presentable.

There were several parts of the plot and one of the highlights for me was in the middle of the film when Maggie goes for a check up. The doctor gives her the typical bedside manner and gives her her chances, before admitting to Wade that he has lied and that she doesn’t have much time left at all. It makes you wonder to what extent the medical professional lying has actually impacted the infection spreading.

The colour palette that is used is dull and somewhat lifeless, and this combined with the atmosphere of the film puts you into a truly bleak world and gives you a distinctive lack of hope for the characters. There are no bright colours, not even with the clothes, and it feels like a world that is dying. Infact, the only real colour use is yellow, as everything else feels almost grey.

Acoustically the film is perfect and the subtle soundtrack is very effectively. It makes you feel everything that you’re supposed to feel in that moment and this is unlike a lot of other films that I have watched in any genre. There are plenty of scenes, such as one where Wade is walking through a field near the beginning of the film and the score makes it seem impossible to hope for a brighter future, which brings you truly into the world of the characters. That is exactly what a score is supposed to do.

Arnold-Schwarzenegger-Maggie-2015-release-date

Summary

Whilst Maggie struggles to really deserve more than a straight to DVD release, it’s not an awful effort in terms of direction and artistic merit. It certainly looks the part and the few sets that are used are used very well. However, the plot does not work and the film falls rather flat. Breslin portrays her character poorly, although the character isn’t exactly great to begin with and it felt almost like 90 minutes that I had wasted.

I think the best word to describe the film is disappointing. It’s very flat and never really feels like it’s getting going. It takes more than a good atmosphere and an appropriate look to make a film good, and unfortunately this has all of the style, but virtually no substance behind it.

I would recommend that when this does come out at the cinema, you avoid it as it’s one of the least exciting and engaging zombie style films in recent years.

What have you done?!, What have you done?! I needed her!

Year Released : 2009rec-2-poster
Directors :Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
Cast : Manuela Velasco, Jonathan Mellor, Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca and Oscar Sánchez Zafra

[REC] 2 had an extremely limited release in the UK, infact, I know of only one cinema that was within a 70 mile radius of me at the time, that showed it and I was one of only three people in the first screening, so whilst I wasn’t that sure that [REC] was appropriate for this site, I’m confident that [REC] 2, a film that made less than £100,000 combined in America and the UK at the cinema, fits right in.

I could sit here all day and list sequels that are nowhere near as good as the first film in their respective series, especially in the horror genre, but I am pleased to say that whilst it’s still not as good as the first film, [REC] 2 actually comes damn close due to a similar format, familiar characters and adding a new element to the series.

One interesting aspect of the film is that it takes place before, during and after the events of the first film, meaning that the creators had to tread very carefully in order to make it seem like it was keeping in time and they do it very well. There are one or two minor issues (such as one character’s hair changing colour from the first film despite being trapped in the building), but by in large it actually works very well.

Plot

A swat team and Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor) as they enter the building from the first film to bring the infection under control. Their attempts fail and one member of the team is infected before Dr. Owen stops him from attacking another member of the team by performing a religious blessing on him, revealing himself to have been sent from the Vatican to claim all of the evidence from the apartment at the end of the first film.

Meanwhile, some teenagers are playing on the roof of the building and find their way inside thanks to following a fireman who is searching for his friends and colleagues from the first film.

As the two groups eventually join forces and their numbers dwindle, they are left fighting the infected and trying to find a way out before finding Angela (Velasco) from the first film. She is desperate to escape after someone surviving the encounter with the possessed woman in the attic apartment but her motives aren’t all that they seem.

Rec-2-Angela-2

So why isn’t it quite as good as the original?

I’m going to do what I don’t normally do in these reviews and that’s start with the negative before moving onto the positives. For me the series started losing a lot of it’s mojo (for lack of better words) when it was revealed that it wasn’t an unknown viral chemical, but rather a demon that can spread itself through biting others. At that point I personally started losing interest as it didn’t need to be turned into a religious themed horror film.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against religion or religious people, but it’s not for me and I certainly don’t think it was needed. I would have been more inclined to keep my interest at the maximum had it remained an unknown viral chemical. I suppose in many ways it is clever before it adds an element that was only briefly at at the end of the first film.

There is also the issue with Angela’s hair. In the first film she had what appeared to be mousey brown hair, but in this film it has just gone full on dark brown. I know it’s not a major thing to be concerned about and it could easily be just a cause of what had happened to her at the end of the previous film (revealed in flashbacks during this film), but either way it seemed like a glaring oversight.

That’s where my negativity really ends.

Untitled

[REC] 2 is an excellent follow up to the first film and when I say isn’t as good, that’s definitely not a bad thing as I would give the first one a 9.5/10 and this one an 8.5 if I used ranking systems. It is an excellent follow up and had it been a stand alone movie it would have done very well, certainly better than the third one did anyway.

Let’s start with the little things. Most of the cast from the first film returns, even if just for a cameo as their infected selves, which I thought was an excellent little touch and gave a great level of consistency (ignoring hair issues). The camera work, although through different types of camera (handheld and swat team compared to the TV camera from the first)  is still fantastic and gets some unique shots, such as the one below where the teenagers are shocked when the SWAT team threw someone down the stairs (this is before the SWAT team knew about the teenagers) and therefore the “what the fuck?” reaction of the actors and the camera work definitely adds something.

The atmosphere is far darker than in the first film and whilst it doesn’t have the consistently building tension of the first film, you are constantly feeling uneasy throughout as you know that any character can die at any second in an unpredictable fashion. This wasn’t like a normal horror film collection of deaths, ones where you can see the deaths coming, these were very sudden and done with care and detail, even if it’s only the death of a minor character.

With numerous deaths it would be difficult to really keep the feelings that you have towards the characters, afterall once you’ve seen one death you’ve seen them all, however, each death gets you more than you would expect and one of the most emotional deaths is that of one of the SWAT team members (I won’t spoil which one) gets cornered by the infected in a bathroom and as they’re breaking down the door you see him look in the mirror as he breaks down emotionally, watching the door collapse before shooting himself at the last second.

This comes minutes after he almost dies whilst retrieving a blood sample from a ventilation shaft and can hear an infected child scurry towards his location before emerging from around a corner and giving chase to a man who can only crawl backwards. It’s a fantastic sequence and you’re never sure if the child is going to catch up with him or not….although I have just sort of spoilt it by revealing he does survive that, only to die a few minutes later. Either way it makes both scenes very memorable and I would go as far as saying that they are my two favourite scenes in the movie due to how simplistically you are made to feel the emotions that that particularly character is feeling.

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That cop is one of the leading secondary characters and much like the first film, the secondary characters are well developed as well as they can be given the circumstances. Unlike the first you don’t get to see most of the characters when they’re not worried about what’s happening or the impending infection spreading, the characters in this film know what’s out and there.

Arguably the main character is Dr. Owens, who is in many ways also the most interesting given that he goes into the building willingly and in full knowledge of what awaits, all without the slightest bit of fear. His growing frustration at being unable to gain a blood sample (such as the blood setting on fire when he puts a cross near it) is a remarkable piece of acting and you continually route for him to succeed throughout the film, even if you’re not religious, and that is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film. I can find myself supporting characters that I never would have supported in other films and it is a sign of excellent film making.

I mentioned in the plot summary that Angela’s motives aren’t what they seem and the last scene is not only acting superbly by the ever delightful Velasco, but is actually a very clever piece of story telling as various parts of the story from both the first and second films wrap up nicely, whilst leaving the exceedingly likely possibility of a sequel…which did eventually happen.

REC_2,_Manuela_Velasco

Summary

Whilst not quite as good as the first film, [REC] 2 is still one of the most enthralling horror films I’ve seen in recent years. It might not approvedhave had some aspects that the first film had but that doesn’t take anything away from a superb effort from all involved. The acting is again superb and whilst it takes a rather religious tone, which is out of context with the majority of the previous film, it feels more connected to [REC] than most films do with their respective sequels.

Without having seen the fourth film (which acts as a direct sequel to this film) I can’t say whether this film would have been the best place to end the series, but if they had then I would have been very satisfied and I think you will to.

 

There’s something more to this place. Our cells don’t work. Neither does the T.V. or radio. We’re isolated.

Year Released : 2007Rec_poster
Directors :Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
Cast : Manuela Velasco, Ferrán Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano and Pablo Rosso

I feel almost like I’m cheating by reviewing [REC] as it is relatively well known compared to the other films I have reviewed, however, with the fourth film coming soon I have decided to review the first three before going to the new one whenever they eventually decide to release that.

[REC] is a Spanish horror film that has since been remade in America as “Quarantine”, but much like most other American remakes, whilst it may be good, it is not anywhere near as excellent as it’s source material.

Whilst the subject matter isn’t very realistic, not helped by the third film in the series, [REC] is one of the most enjoyable horror films around and arguably my favourite non-English language film.

Plot

Angela (Velasco) is a TV presenter of a show that goes behind the scenes of companies and services that operate during the night, and her latest episode will be following the fire service. After initially being very bored, she finds herself joining a call at an apartment building where they believe an old lady has been severely injured.

When they arrive the lady bites a police officer and when they try and rush him to the hospital, they find that they have been locked in the building by the government and all other exits are being sealed.

As they try to find an exit the old woman attacks several other people, who themselves eventually start attacking others, and it becomes a race against time as the survivors are hunted down.

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What makes the film enjoyable?

Unlike most found footage films, you aren’t bombarded by noises from unseen sources or even characters being terrified by something that isn’t on screen either. I think that this was due to the found footage style of film not being over-saturated at the time this film was made and therefore most in the genre felt very fresh.

I have nothing against found footage films and some of the efforts have been excellent. Before [REC] came out in 2007 found footage was still a largely unknown genre and the only genuine example was the well-received “Blair Witch Project” and whilst subsequent films have been enjoyable (Cloverfield for example), [REC] and it’s sequel (review coming soon) are, in my opinion, two of the most ground-breaking films in what was still a new genre.

For me it’s the attention to detail that I find draws me in more than most other films in the genre, and reactions in certain situations are genuine because the actor/ress didn’t know what was going to happen. There is a scene early on when the fire crew are attempting to open a door whilst Angela is facing the camera. They decide to open it using what appears to be an axe and Manuel Velasco hadn’t been told that this was happening and her reaction of shock and screaming was genuine, and that’s awesome to watch.

Other examples of great attention to detail include Angela trying on a fireman’s helmut and then struggling to hear what the fireman is saying to her, or a Japanese family that can’t speak Spanish being scared because they never truly understand on the slightest level what is happening due to the language barrier.

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Velasco puts in an astounding performance as Angela. Velasco comes from a career as a TV presenter and therefore her performance felt very natural and makes her genuinely likeable. It’s the first time in a while that I have seen a female lead in a horror film where you would actually describe her as likeable and someone who you genuinely want to survive what is happening.

The characters and their reactions really make this film, right down from the minor aspects of their personalities, such as Angela not being one dimensional in the slightest and the fireman being very friendly until he sees that the film crew is filming a woman being shot and he gives a “you’re really not fucking helping” look on his face after previously being very tolerant of them from their time at the fire station.

After the infection starts spreading amongst those trapped in the building, self-preservation starts taking hold and that’s definitely not something you see in most horror films, and one such example comes shortly after the 50 minute mark when one character has been handcuffed to a set of stairs for the protection of others. Although there doesn’t seem to be a problem at first, some infected start to break through a nearby metal door and whilst the characters try to free her, they leave her to effectively fend for herself when it’s obvious that she isn’t going to get free. In most horror films some characters would stay behind to try and help her, risking infection themselves, but in this they’re very much in the “fuck that” camp when they realise that she isn’t going to be freed in time and they abandon her. This is more realistic to what would happen in real life in a similar situation.

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All of the characters feel exceptionally real and this could easily be because none of the cast were known to the English speaking world before this film and therefore they are free from any stereotypes that might be brought on by people seeing them in previous films. I’ll put that into some sort of context, if I saw a trailer for a movie and I saw that Katherine Heigl was in it, I would assume it was terrible and was a romantic comedy, regardless of what was in the trailer. There are so many famous actors/actresses that are only ever in one type of film and if they’re rubbish in two or more, they’re not going to get any better as time goes on in the genre, and the aforementioned Heigl is just terrible in everything that she is in. Anyway, I digress.

Being an unknown actor definitely helps in many ways and some of my favourite performances in films have come from actors/actresses that I’d never previously heard of, and one comes in the form of Carlos Lasarte in the role of Cesar.

Arguably the most enjoyable secondary character, Cesar doesn’t prominently feature but he steals the show when he is on screen. He is just delightful to watch and is an excellent example of when you have a strong supporting cast of characters, your film can be excellent. The stand out scene for the character and one of my favourite scenes in the movie comes when Angela is interviewing him and he is obviously delighted that was is happening is being filmed because it gives him a chance to become famous. He doesn’t say that he wants to be famous at any point during the story but you know that’s what he’s thinking due to how the actor plays him. The character is hilarious to watch because he unknowingly makes numerous racist comments about the foreign family to the camera, thinking he is not getting filmed, but when he finds out that he has been getting filmed saying that his only concern is that his forehead was sweaty. Cesar only has a few lines but the presence he provides is fantastic.

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A lack of a soundtrack actually aids the film exceptionally well, and the sound editing is fantastic. In most horror films you are effectively told when to be scared by the sound effects, or when you are scared it isn’t what’s actually on screen, it’s a loud, sudden sound effect that does it. Back in the 1970s and 1980s the horror film industry boomed because horrors weren’t treating their fans like idiots and telling them when to be scared, they respected their audience and you don’t get that these days.

The best horror films aren’t the ones where you get constant action, they are the ones that take the time to develop their characters and the story, and [REC] is one of the finest examples of this as it’s not a few short breaks of nothing happening with sudden large amounts of action, it’s consistently building and building without feeling like you’re being taken on a rollercoaster. The tension consistently builds and you find yourself getting drawn into it before it eventually reaches it’s conclusion.

Most films with a zombie theme, or at least a film with an infection that symptons similar to the rage virus in “28 Days Later” have the characters constantly under the threat of the zombies, there is sometimes no relenting in this and you become less and less invested in the story, [REC] is very different and doesn’t feel like a zombie/infection-themed film because it doesn’t force it on you, infact, for most of the early part of [REC] you don’t realise that it’s a zombie-themed film and is just a horror film, that is before one of the doctors is beaten, but by this point a significant portion of the film has already gone by, 42 minutes and 33 seconds to precise.

With a run time of just 75 minutes from the start of the film to it’s end credits, [REC] doesn’t give itself a lot of time to work with and I mentioned in my review for the extremely flawed “Zombeavers” that if you have a short film then you have to do something exceptional to make it worth watching, and whilst I couldn’t wait for that film to end, I found myself wanting more at the end of [REC]. I had been drawn in and felt really invested in the characters and the story.

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Summary

Even if you don’t like found-footage style films, I would urge you to watch [REC] as it is one of the best in the not only that sub-genre, approvedbut the whole of the horror genre. I would rate this as one of my favourite horror films, with only “The Thing” (1982) and “The Fly” (1988) being higher on that list off of the top of my head.

The performances of the cast, the characters, the storyline and the confined setting make it very hard not to feel the tension throughout and whilst I wouldn’t say that it is a masterpiece, it is one of the most original films that I have seen in the last ten years and it doesn’t feel like you’ve seen it before, which is something that can’t easily be said for most films in the found-footage category.

If you’ve seen “Quarantine” and enjoyed it, you owe it to yourself to watch the original film as it’s better than it’s remake (and I do actually like “Quarantine). With a rating at the current time of 7.5/10 on IMDB you know you’re going to get a good film, especially as very few horror films get beyond 6/10 these days, let alone above 7.