My Top 8 Horror Films: REC (2007)

The second foreign film on this list, this time from Spain, is one of those found footage flicks akin to The Blair Witch Project (1999), Paranormal Activity (2007), or Cloverfield (2008). This time, it’s about a news team of a reporter and camera operator who, during a fluff piece about a local fire station, become stuck in an apartment building as the tenants turn into murderous and violent ghouls. You can only see what the camera sees, literally, and the characters cannot leave the building due to a government blockade.

 I’ll admit it: I’m a huge fan of movies set in apartment complexes: Demons 2, REC, The Shining {1}, Dredd (2012), The Raid: Redemption (2011), The Horde (2009), Let Me In (2010), etc.<<Technically a hotel, but whatever. Same difference.>> I’ve lived most of my life in limited square footage rooms in different cities. There’s always been a constant for me: you’ll never really know the people living around you. Sometimes, you just don’t give a shit. Other times, you just don’t have the time to get to know them. For the most part, you kind of just live next to some people for a while, and then you move on. The apartment is just a room you pass through. If the rent goes up, fuck them. You go elsewhere. In a home, you plan to stay there for a long time: you develop relationships with your neighbors, invest in renovations, fix things, etc. Apartments are ephemeral, and nothing ever really lasts. Thus, behind every door in a hall is an entirely different life and story and experience, for better or worse, that can be packed up and left within in a month. This movie, and others, plays to that experience: each room sets up a different scenario and character. In the context of a horror film, the possibilities for fear & death multiply with each door.

Containing multitudes.

Once events are set in motion, the reporter and camera operator get to know as many people as possible, interviewing them to maybe pitch for a news segment. They go in and out of rooms, try to follow different trails, and, ultimately, attempt to make sense out of the shit show they’ve been thrust into. REC is perfect in conveying how during an emergency, no one really knows what the fuck is going on until it happens, which may already be too late. The reporter can’t get a straight answer. The fire fighters they came with are just as clueless. The police that show up try to keep order, but that facade quickly crumbles as these monsters kill people one by one. When they try to escape, government forces and military-style police forbid them from leaving the building and contain the virus. When government scientists are brought in, wearing full, dehumanizing gear, they don’t know a goddamn thing either. The police, firefighters, and government scientists are at each other’s throats with the media catching it all on camera. The tenants are scared, and the monster’s numbers grow. No one knows who’s accountable for all this. No one knows what to do. Is the mysterious apartment on the top floor responsible? Was it the foreigners on the second floor? Who works for who? How many people live in the apartment on the third floor? Have they all been turned to monsters?

Without spoiling too much, the American adaptation, Quarantine (2008), makes the cause of all this a result of a terrorist act, completely different than REC, which goes to show how uninspiring American horror films can be. The apartment complex angle in the found footage genre is just too good because you figure things out as they happen, like a live broadcast of an accident in your apartment complex. A meth explosion? How could you know? Your neighbor was a serial killer? What? The possibilities are endless for stories. In this case, let’s say that the last scenes are iconic in horror cinema for a reason, and it couldn’t have happened anywhere else.

Reyes Ramirez