Friday, October 2, 2009

30 days of nite - [REC] (Balaguero & Plaza, 2007)

Zombie movies, for whatever reason, remain the horror sub-genre most easily applied to political satire. It's the George Romero legacy, I suppose. But while [REC] is indebted to Romero's DEAD films, it trades his overt political statements for a sense of urgent, violent depictions of how quickly order breaks down. The zombie film has always explored themes of societal breakdown and the incompetence of government. And while [REC] definitely has characters fill in as symbols for Law and Order, it never gets heavy-handed. It doesn't have to, because [REC] is just a bleak portrayal of the end. It's shot hand-held, and on digital, and it looks fucking great. A few sequences are truly stupdendous examples of suspenseful filmmaking. The plot is simple: a young TV reporter follows a crew of firemen into an apartment building. The reporter works on a TV show and is filming a night's work as a fireman. The apartmet is infected with something, and that something soon has everyone in the motherfucking building running and biting and screaming and reanimating. This is seriously a really well-made picture. The pacing is slow and playful at first, but by the end, it's bracing and unrelenting, and you're gripping your seat. Well, not literally. Only movie to actually make me grip my seat? CITY OF GOD. But this came close. It plays like the first twenty or so minutes of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD, captured on handheld video with all the desperation and mayhem that that implies. It's a (probably accurate) portrayal of how quickly humans resort to violence. Violence is, to be sure, an automatic behavior which is naturally selected for. At the blink of an eye, the body interprets threats and responds accordingly, as best it is capable. This means that, given certain circumstances, human beings devolve, step backwards in time, and utilize ancient instincts. At a certain point, the human species is competing against the universe. We are trying to convince ourselves that the universe gives a shit about us. But the universe doesn't, and at the blink of an eye, it introduces things that destroy our institutions and frameworks. Well. Something tells me that I'm reading too much into [REC] but it made me think of these things, and that's important.


J.T. said...

I reviewed this sometime last year for MovieFeast. I'm glad that other people are checking it out.

Burgundy LaRue said...

Watched this over the weekend. Great movie! I'll be reviewing it sometime this week.

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