Friday, October 16, 2009

[rec] (2007)

finally caught this spanish gem last night. what's weird is that the u.s. remake, quarrantine [2008], was made and released before the original even got to dvd. i've reviewed the remake this time last year and liked it well enough to buy the disc. not a great movie, and its only innovation is the hand-held camera and pov narration, without any music, which really isn't an innovation 10 years after the blair witch project [1999] turned the horror community, and the public at large, on its head, albeit briefly.

i might be accused of being a purist but i think when the americans get their hands on a foreign film and remake it for domestic consumption they usually fuck it up big time. i almost always prefer the original films to their often palid north american bastardization. the ring [2002] was just like that, a movie that dumbed down and spelled out the story to its audience. the japanese original, ringu [1998], is a subtler, quieter, and i think a far more creepy movie. quarrantine, however, is an almost shot-for-shot recreation of the spanish original, and strangely does not suck for being such a rip-off.

the gist is this, a young tv journalist who hosts a late-night show that features life in barcelona as it is lived very late at night. she and her camera man follow a pair of firefighters as they go on a medical call. when they reach the apartment building they find two police officers who escort the firefighters, the tv journalist and the camera man, to a flat where the lone old woman is covered in blood and behaving like a wild animal. the old woman attacks a cop and soon the building is sealed by the authorities. the rest, as they say, is zombie style mayhem.

what's cool about [rec] is how ordinary the denizens of the apartment building and the police officers look. no hollywood gods and goddesses, instead the people look like the kind we live with, see on the street and perhaps even find in the mirror. the exception to this rule is the reporter herself, played by a real tv journalist manuela velasco, who is a veritable babe. of course taste in looks is highly subjective and even tho i can appreciate beauty, both in men and women, i rarely find myself attracted to actors. velasco, well she's worth a collection of poems written solely about her. holy shit, i wanted to jump thru the screen and fight the infected for her. also, the firefighters are very good-looking too. what i found striking between the u.s. version and this one is that the spanish version left-out all the sexual banter of the american version. no sexy and/or sexist talk from the firefighters at all. absent too is the kind of macho bravado that was on display by the u.s. actors playing firefighters. i've no idea how life is like in barcelona but at least in this movie the actors portraying their characters played people who were simply doing their jobs with little flair.

another difference is that there is very little exposition to the cause of the infection that turns people into homicidal maniacs. it is suggested that the disease is a variant of rabies. it's not spelled out unlike the u.s. version. and the outside authorities are serious about sealing the building but they communicate with the occupants thru a bullhorn. the u.s. version tries to sustain the mystery with as little communication between the authorities outside and the victims trapped within. it works okay but i think the spanish film creates a greater verisimilitude that does not dumb itself down for the audience.

i can't help make these comparisons between these two films because the remake got to me first. as far as remakes go, especially dumbed down u.s. versions, the movie is pretty good. the spanish original is better i think not only in character development but technique. the camera gets battered, goes on the blink, is tossed aside for portions of the film, the sound goes out or is muffled which heightens the movie's realism. sure it beggars belief that the camera man does not worry about dead batteries. it's a horror movie; there's bound to be inconsistencies.

is that a recommendation or what!?



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