The concept of this column was spawned last month after the SXSW film festival here in Austin. During the fest I asked fearless horror leader Brian Salisbury if he needed coverage of any horror films for HND. We boiled our choices down to two titles: [REC] 3 and V/H/S. [REC] 3 was ruled out immediately as I had seen neither [REC] nor [REC] 2. Missing those two films game me an idea for an article. Brian with his diabolic brain took it one step further lets turn this into a column. Late to the Party was born.
[REC] tells the story of Angela Vidal, played by gorgeous Spanish actress Manuela Velasco. Angela is reporter for a television station in Barcelona, assigned to spend an evening following a crew from a local fire station. The klaxon sounds and our fearless news reporter, accompanied by her cameraman Pablo, sets out with the firefighters. The firefighters are responding to a call of a disturbed woman in an apartment building. Barely a minute after entering this disturbed woman’s apartment, all hell breaks loose. In a rage, the woman attacks the fire fighter sent in to help. Soon we learn that we are dealing with an issue much bigger than a single disturbed woman. As Angela and the firefighters head for the door they soon realize they are locked in. The authorities have put the building in quarantine. Over the remainder of the movie the tenants of this building are overtaken by some force/virus/malevolence reminiscent of a 28 Days Later / Dawn of the Dead mashup. There are scenes in this movie that made me jump from my chair. I love it when a movie can do that.
A few days after viewing [REC] sat down to watch [REC] 2. [REC] 2 takes place in the immediate aftermath of [REC] and is told from the point of view of a police team sent into the same building on a rescue mission. You cannot help but be reminded of Aliens when the police officers check their helmet cams. I was waiting for someone to shout “Wake up Hicks!” The police enter the still quarantined building accompanied by a man from the environmental services department. This man seems to have knowledge of what happened in this building, only problem is he is not sharing the details of this knowledge. [REC] 2 is a well made follow up to [REC], which made for another satisfying, chair-jumping viewing. I won’t go into too many details of [REC] 2 as it would spoil the cool mystery of these two great horror films.
Prior to viewing these films I was told by many friends that [REC] and [REC] 2 are two of the greatest found footage films around. I have to agree with their assessment. Filmmakers Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza made two wonderful films, using a technique generally frowned upon by horror fans (at least now). Personally I have no issue with found footage films provided they tell a good story and these two installments of the [REC] trilogy do just that. They tell a good story that is made skillfully and has some unique things to say.
How I Missed It
The number of horror films I have missed is legion. Through the grapevine I hear about a lot of great horror films, but somehow just never get around to seeing them. I had an opportunity to see [REC] 2 at Fantastic Fest in 2009, but not having seen [REC] I had to pass on the opportunity. For the record I didn’t see the remake of [REC] called Quarantine either.
Better Late or Never
I definitely rate this film as Better Late. I am happy I miss a lot of good horror films. Why would I be happy about this? I just love unboxing an “older” or “classic” film I have not seen and finding a real gem. In the case of [REC] and [REC] 2 I found two gems. Catch em if you can!