It’s another late night for enthusiastic television presenter Ángela Vidal and her cameraman Pablo as they make the rounds of Barcelona after dark in the company of a team of firemen, Manu, Álex and driver Jose, meeting them at the station and hoping that the alarm might ring and summon them to an emergency for footage for her show While You’re Asleep, but instead they are called to assist in the rescue of Conchita Izquierdo, an elderly woman trapped in her apartment.
Bloodied and disoriented, Mrs Izquierdo is uncooperative with the policeman who tries to assist her when the firemen break down the door; asked to keep back and cease recording, Ángela surreptitiously tells Pablo to continue and captures the footage of Mrs Izquierdo’s vicious and unprovoked attack on the policeman. Running to get help, they find that the building has been closed off and they and the other residents are sealed inside in a rapidly escalating situation.
Originally released in 2007, [•REC] is a found footage horror film which breaks as many rules of the genre as it obeys, following the template established a decade before with The Blair Witch Project and all the slavish copycats which trailed it while breathlessly unleashing gleeful chaos, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza choosing talented but unknown actors who were prepared to improvise and never giving them a full script while knowing themselves exactly where their story was heading.
Presented on Blu-ray by Arrow as both the 78 minute theatrical release running at 24 frames per second and the 75 minute “production version” marginally accelerated to 25fps, unlike many found footage movies of whining teenagers stumbling around the woods, [•REC] documents a professional film crew caught in an unfolding major incident beyond their experience and expectation and doing the only thing they can, trying to remain calm and document events for posterity.
Theories are proposed and those in supposed control call for calm as tempers justifiably fray, but it soon becomes apparent that although the authorities are helpless they are also withholding information, else how could the building have been quarantined so rapidly? With makeshift preparations unravelling, the only place Ángela and Pablo can go is up, away from the exits into the attic space where hideous answers await in the secret abode of patient zero, Tristana Medeiros Da Souza.
A genuine classic of Spanish cinema and zombie movies, the new edition of [•REC] is packed with new and archive extras including a forty minute behind the scenes documentary, a panel discussion, interviews, a video diary, deleted and extended scenes, on set footage, two commentaries, How to Shoot a Horror Movie with Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza and Plaza’s 1999 short film Abuelitos (Grandparents), a change of pace and tone but as bleak as the main feature.