24 May 2010
I wish I'd seen this in theaters. I'm starting to realize watching movies on a medium-sized television screen in a dimly lit room while I eat buffalo wings and a cat chases a moth around just isn't the ideal environment to be scared in. But I'm not going to let this film off the hook that easy. Much of it was so chaotic, with screaming bloody-mouthed monster-people lunging at an all-too-conveniently-held camera but never really biting, and that just wasn't scary. It was exhausting, and a bit tense, and even dizzying, but much of what was happening could have been scarier. (The little girl, for one, and the handcuffed mother for another.)
But -- credit where it's due -- Rec is a lot scarier than most the films I've been trying out lately, especially as it ramps into its pretty stellar third act, which although a touch cliché was well done enough it didn't matter. What I liked best about this movie, though, wasn't its ability or inability to scare me; it was the unfolding of its story in nice layers. Elements that feel placed for one reason (a sick little girl who needs her antibiotics, but they're trapped outside...) sneak back to mean something bigger later on (she's infected from patient zero, the dog). Answers to questions (the dog is how they found out about the infection, so the dog is somehow the source of it) are incomplete answers that hide deeper ones, allowing them to come up as mild surprises later on (the mysterious man in the penthouse kept alive a young girl who is the true patient zero!). It's all very clever. The peril and the chaos -- I didn't hate them but they didn't do it for me. The mystery and the story, I quite liked.
I also got to pay close attention to some of the same old tropes, and what does and doesn't work for "scary." People coated in zombie makeup, not too scary; barely revealed anorexic actress wandering around nude trying to eat your face, only seen in hazy glimpses, notably scarier. The darkness alone, not too scary; the darkness when you know something is out there and all you can hear is panicked heavy breathing, notably scarier. I'm curious to see the American remake, though I hear it's not very good. I'm also curious to see the sequel, Rec 2, which to be honest I take for granted isn't very good.