Unfriended (2015) – Levan Gabriadze

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A successful horror movie is a very fragile thing. So much can go wrong that will spoil the effect. One of the best pieces of advice I could give a horror filmmaker (from the perspective of an asshole critic with no experience whatsoever) would be to keep the narrative simple. As a member of the audience, getting bogged down with a complex or convoluted plot distracts me from the feeling of fear. If I have to stop to remember who that character is or wonder why they’re doing something, it takes me out of the moment. And that simplicity is the main strength of Levan Gabriadaze’s 2015 offering Unfriended.

The film is no masterpiece, but it certainly achieves what it sets out to do. Just think I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Blair Witch, but on a computer. Unfriended is part of a modern sub-genre of the Found Footage movement. The whole thing takes place on the computer screen over a series of Skype video chats, emails, Facebook messages and YouTube videos. The point of view is that of our main character Blaire. We’re seeing her screen out of her own eyes. So we see what she sees, types, reads, etc.

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Throughout the film, Blaire chats with her friends in a group video chat but they soon realize that there is an unwanted visitor online with them. They can’t seem to get rid of this person and unexplainable things start to happen like messages from a dead friend’s Facebook account. And things just escalate from there. As the film unfolds, we see this group of friends unravel as strange events take place and deceptions and betrayals are exposed.

And that’s it. That’s the whole movie. It’s admittedly gimmicky, but it sticks to a very simple formula that gets the job done. I actually thought the acting was pretty spot on. Most of which is just a group of teens reacting to various frightening things they’re seeing over each other’s webcams. The dialogue seemed pretty realistic to me, but there are a few cringe-inducing moments where it becomes painfully clear that the writer is not a 16 year-old girl.

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I’m not sure if the Unfriended is meant to be a commercial for Skype or Google products, or if it’s supposed to be a morality tale about cyber-bullying. And while it’s not the scariest film I’ve ever seen, it was fun to watch and it held my attention for 82 minutes, which is not an easy thing to do these days. Maybe it was the constant switching of windows, opening of new tabs, sending of messages, switching of Spotify songs, etc. – so reminiscent of how we actually spend time on computers – that helped this film progress despite simple plot.

Is it scary: 3 – There are some spooky scenes and there’s a growing feeling of suspense throughout but nothing that will keep you up at night.

Originality: 5 – This one is tough. It’s a spin-off of Found Footage and we’ve even seen this kind of thing before (Open Windows). Still, I think we’ll see more of this format based on this film’s execution.

Blood: 2 – Almost no blood. There are just a handful of violent scenes and only one or two even actually show anything explicit.

Believability: 8 – Overall, I thought the writing and acting were on point. I felt like the film was happening right on my computer screen.

Setting/Cinematography: 5 – Again, this one was tough to score. There really was not much setting to speak of and the cinematography was intentionally limited to webcam footage. I think a solid 5 is fair. Like taking a college course Pass/Fail.

Final Score: 23/50

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Grave Encounters (2011) – The Vicious Brothers

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Have you ever seen one of those ghost hunting “reality” shows on like SyFy or Discovery channel? If not, you’re not missing much, and I’ll break it down for you. There’s usually some sort of semi-illiterate eye-witness who works at like an old bed and breakfast or an abandoned theater or something like that. (For reference, this person has on average, 3 more teeth than the eye witnesses on the bigfoot shows). Enter: crew of “paranormal investigators” who probably look like the members of the band Anthrax in 1986, complete with at least one cute-ish, beefy, goth chick with lots of cleavage. With an arsenal of the latest in ghost hunting tech, these real-life Ghost busters wait till the middle of the night and creep through the haunted building with night vision and microphones to try to capture evidence of a real live ghost.

That’s the premise of The Vicious Brother’s 2011 found footage horror film Grave Encounters. First off, I’m generally not a fan of found footage. I find it to be gimmicky and I think studios just like to do it because it’s a good excuse for cheap, low-production filmmaking. That being said, this movie is about as well done as I’ve seen a found footage film be (think REC in terms of how realistic it is). That is to say, after a while, you forget that it’s being shot like this and it just feels natural (as opposed to Paranormal Activity where you’re kinda beaten over the head with it.) In general, the movie is very well done, and terrifying. It’s got a good build-up, good atmosphere and great scares/shock value that come just at the right time. From what I’ve seen, this movie gets decent reviews, but I think it stands out as one of the better horror films of the past few years.

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So the movie is about the film crew of one of these ghost hunting TV shows called Grave Encounters as they visit an abandoned insane asylum. They conduct some interviews and learn about the asylum’s disturbing past and then the caretaker locks them inside overnight. He’s scheduled to come back in the morning and let them out. So they start to explore the cavernous hallways of this old mental hospital. It starts out a bit like Session 9, where the atmosphere and environment play a big part in scaring us. Then we see some of the usual ghost movie clichés, windows swinging open, furniture moving, cold feelings. But all of this happening against the backdrop of this dilapidated old hospital still feels scary.

So the team starts to freak out, they’re waiting for 6am when the caretaker is supposed to come let them out. And for some reason THEY SPLIT UP TO COLLECT THEIR GEAR. Of course somebody goes missing. Now it’s well past morning, the sun is not up and nobody has come to unlock the door. Hours and eventually days pass and they are in some sort of perpetual night locked in this building. They try to break out but the doors and windows just seem to open up to more hallways and they’re trapped inside. And the ghostly events are getting more and more intense/frequent. Things keep building up and up and the cast slowly dwindles, disappears into the darkness. The survivors start to lose their minds as they’re tormented by the spirits of the past residents of the hospital.

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In terms of scares, they’ve done just about everything right. Great setting. Slow but steady buildup of atmosphere and intensity. Structurally, it all just works; the movie is about a film crew filming in a scary old building. So there are different cameras, angles, etc. that we cycle through. You don’t even think about it.

In short, this movie is fucking terrifying. They do a great job getting into your head. You’re watching these people just unravel as they try to cope with something that they thought they wanted to find. Maybe they never really believed in the first place. Desperately crawling on their hands and knees through the pitch dark, twisted tunnels of this creepy old building, they’re like the patients who used to be trapped there.

  1. Is it scary? 7- Not only does it look scary but it gets scary in your head. Serious nightmare material.
  2. Originality: 4– I can’t say there was anything very original here but they did handle some familiar material very well.
  3. Blood: 4– Not a lot of blood in this film. I like that they could get really scary without just dumping buckets of blood on everyone.
  4. Believability: 7– Found footage can be a good way to draw the audience in and make  us believe what we’re seeing, if it’s handled right. This time they did it right.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 8– Found Footage: -1 point. Despite that, the atmosphere and setting of this movie were pretty much perfect. Just the right mix of internal and external scares.

Final Score: 30/50                                                                                              

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REC 3: Genesis (2012) Paco Plaza

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Movie sequels and trilogies are a tricky thing to get right. You want to stay true to the originals, while still bringing something new to the table. It’s a bit of a catch 22. You can assume that the audience is already familiar with the characters and the basic plotline, so you can save some time in background and development. Skip the foreplay, grab the Astro-glide and get strait down to the banging. The problem is, not everybody has the stamina to bang for an hour and a half. So you have people trying fancy finger tricks and weird butt stuff and –wait, this metaphor is over. But you get the picture. Unless there’s a great new addition to the story, a filmmaker is just going to deploy gimmicks and clichés to fill out the bits of the film that would have been spent on background and character development. As a result, the characters often feel flat in sequels and trilogies and this sets the film up to fail.

In his 2012 installment of the found-footage zombie series Rec 3: Genesis, Paco Plaza has made a noble effort to bring new life to the series, though he didn’t quite pull it off. The issue was that he tried to make it bigger than it was. The previous 2 films took place inside a small apartment building. Rec 3 takes place in a large banquet hall and the surrounding area with buildings, woods, and an underground tunnel. It’s just too much space to handle in this format.

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The movie takes place at a wedding reception, and it’s catered buffet-style. Probably a couple hundred guests (aka hors d’oeuvres). We meet the happy couple and a few of their closest, most delicious friends. Of course there’s a guy with a dog bite on his hand (and we immediately think of the scene in REC 1 where the girl mentions her sick dog at the vet, before she eats her mom).  So this dude turns out to be the new “patient-zero” of the film. He starts chowing down on wedding guests and projectilly-vomiting blood onto people. Pretty soon, there’s a full-on outbreak and the bride and groom get separated amidst the chaos. Basically the last 2/3 of the film is the two of them trying to find each other and not get eaten. It gets a little too lovey-dovey when they keep saying things like, “I know he/she is still alive; I can feel her spirit.” Come on.

The whole thing was very, very slightly tongue-in-cheek. There are some little moments of comedy and kitschyness that took away from the scariness a little. There are times when it’s a little to stylish and cool to be scary, like when the bride uses a chainsaw to cut away the bottom of her dress so she can run/eviscerate zombies better/sexier. (Though the scene with the chainsaw is fucking perfect). And while we’re on the subject, these people can’t seem to hold on to a weapon to save their lives (no pun intended). Throughout the film, we see our heros discard a medieval spiked mace and shield, a sword and a fucking chainsaw. You don’t even deserve to survive this film if you lack the self-preservation and common sense to hold on to these things.

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Finally, I felt a little cheated that this movie just nodded to the originals and didn’t pick up on the direct potline from the end of the REC 2. The ending of that movie was great and I’d have liked to see where it was going. Guess we’ll have to wait for Rec 4. Edit: I originally said this as a joke but there appears to be a Rec  4 in the works.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this movie. The zombies are great, though not as aggressive as in the previous films. They’re somewhere between Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later. And like I said, everything is just on too grand a scale. There are too many characters up front and they seem to get awkward amounts of development before they die. We kind of get to know some people in little bursts and waves and then they’re just gone.

The verdict: Not the best in the series, but not a bad follow-up either. It’s solid zombie fun but doesn’t open any new doors.

  1. Is it scary: 3– Fairly scary, but some of the effect is taken away but the style choices and the subtle humor.
  2. Originality: 5– Pretty much run of the mill. Slight twist on the same format as the first 2 in the series.
  3. Blood: 7– Pretty good and bloody throughout. Not much more to ask for here.
  4. Believability: 5– I think this one falls flat a bit. Characters leaving behind weapons is a big deal breaker for me. It just sets up unnecessary intensity because any rational person would still be armed and able to defend themselves.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6–  Tough call here. The setting was fine, but possibly too big to handle appropriately, given the format. Plaza did turn away from the found footage stuff for most of the film, while keeping bits and pieces of it. I thought that was cool. In general, the cinematography was well done.

Final Score: 26/50

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Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) – Tod Williams

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First off, I want to apologize; my last few entries have gotten a little long. 12-1300 words- ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m going to try to keep them more like 900 words or less. If you feel I haven’t sufficiently discussed a certain topic just ask me about it.

Now, some people might disagree with my thoughts on the Paranormal Activity franchise but they can suck it. There’s nothing wrong with these movies. They’re fun to watch and they’re scary enough but I think they lack something that keeps them from being a true “horror movie.” These are pop-music horror movies. They’re horror movies for people who don’t like horror. They’re the Tabasco sauce of horror. Tabasco is good enough, and it’s kind of hot but it’s not going to make you have to get up and sprint from a staff meeting for the bathroom (that’s the hot sauce version of being too scared to sleep all night).  These movies are fine; they’re just not The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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The plot of Tod Williams’ 2010 Paranormal Activity 2 is a sort of prequel to PA1. And the plot feeds into the first movie in ways that I won’t get too specific on. The film opens with a little fake thank you to the police dept. and the families for providing the “real” footage. Then we’ve got mom and dad bringing home new born baby. There’s also a spunky tween sister. Just like in the first movie, weird things start to happen around the house that slowly escalate in intensity. Doors swinging open and closed, pots and pans banging, dog barking and growling at nothing- textbook ghost story. Then we have the obligatory skepticism on the part of the male lead. And the ill-fated excitement and optimism about the ghost on the part of the daughter.

The mom turns out to be the sister of the chick in the first film. I should mention that this story takes place just a few weeks before the events of the first film. To bolster up the plot, these ladies discuss what’s happening in the house and reference something similar taking place in their house when they were children. So they start to figure out what’s happening but they are essentially powerless against it. All they know is that this ghost/demon or whatever it is wants to take (eat?) their newborn baby.

This is another in a long line of “found footage” films. If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of these movies. This one does an alright job thought. The house gets broken into early in the movie (ostensibly by the ghost) so they set up some top-end, high res security cameras all around the house. This takes care of the “shaky camera” effect you have in most found footage films. So while it is kind of gimmicky, at least you can see what’s happening.

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So the verdict is, if you’ve seen the first one, just leave it at that. This is basically the same movie, in terms of scares. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s no real reason for it to exist either. I don’t think anyone was really dying to find out what happened before/after the first movie. But the studio spent $5 million on it and it raked in almost $180 million. So we can probably expect to keep seeing these pop up for a while.

  1. Is it scary: 4- It’s really more about suspense than actual scares. The way the surveillance video is shown, you know something is about to happen, but it still makes you jump. Other than that, nothing really scary. The last 5 minutes do get pretty intense, though it’s too little, too late.
  2. Originality: 2- Really just a rehash of the first film (which was basically already stolen from other movies) with a couple of new elements so they could build more and more sequels.
  3. Blood: 1- Very little blood. Like less than they give you at church.
  4. Believability: 6- Not bad here actually.   The acting was all pretty good. And I felt that people mostly reacted to these strange events in a realistic way. Especially the mom. She did a really good job being scared (the demon focuses his efforts on her). The biggest issue for me was that this boppy little 14 year old girl would have not one but two Ramones posters in her bedroom. I’m not buying that.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 3- Really nothing fancy here. Like I said- found footage, so that’s minus 1 point. The setting is just a pretty suburban house. Not scary at all. The only redeeming feature of the found footage was what I mentioned earlier. Multiple angles, and very little shaky first person camera. 

Final Score: 16/50

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Quarantine (2008) – John Erick Dowdle

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These days, it’s hard to find a movie that’s really truly original. Everything is either an adaptation of a book, a remake of a something from the 70’s 80’s or an American bastardization of a great foreign film. Modern horror movies are no exception to this rule. Hollywood has churned out tons of horror remakes from successful international films (often unbeknownst to the U.S. audience). The effectiveness of these films generally falls short of the original. A few exceptions come to mind however, The Ring, Let Me In, and today’s featured film: Quarantine. Directed by John Erick Dowdle, this 2008 remake of the Spanish found footage flick [REC], does its job pretty well. It doesn’t quite deliver the same punch that the original did, but it’s a solid remake, that remains true to the things we loved about [REC].

That being said, as I watched this, I found myself asking, “why did they even make this movie in the first place?” It’s really almost a shot-for-shot remake of the original, with a dumbed-down ending and explanation. So the answer to “why?” is simple. Some people are too fat, lazy, and stupid to read subtitles while watching a movie. Hollywood spotted a great movie and wanted to cash in on it. Rather than directly releasing it in its original version, they decided to reshoot the entire thing in English so that they could get $10.50 from the all the drunken, meth-head rednecks who would never go see a movie with subtitles. My response to that is: we should not cater to the knuckle-dragging lowest-common denominator. If Honey Boo Boo’s mom won’t strap herself and the rest of her litter of toothless, illiterate swine to the back of a flat-bed truck and waddle down to the local theater because the movie “ain’t even in English” then fuck them. That should be the threshold for mandatory sterilization.

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But I’m getting a little off topic. I’m going to forgo a long-winded review of this movie because it really is exactly the same as REC, which I reviewed a couple of months ago. The movie follows a camera crew who is shadowing some firemen on a rescue call to an apartment building. The building is infested with ravenous zombies who start eating everyone. The CDC/military locks the building down and quarantines them inside. They try to escape/find out the cause of the disease and they find something horrible in the attic. You should really just watch the original instead. Same movie, but it’s scarier. If you take this movie out of context and don’t look at it as a remake, then it’s a solid horror movie. It’s scary, suspenseful, intense, and has a decent story. It’s paced really well and it keeps you on your toes throughout the whole thing.

I know it’s not really fair to just review this movie by comparing it to the original, but if you don’t want that kind of comparison, then don’t spend $15 million remaking a movie shot for shot. Though it’s basically the same movie, there are a few things that I didn’t like about this one. I think they sacrificed some of the slow-building suspense for in-your-face intense action. This fast-paced action was in the original too but I think they ramped it up in the remake at the expense of the overall feeling of terror.

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There’s not really a whole lot more to say about this one. It looks just like the original. The acting, directing, and writing are good, just like the original. Everything is almost as good as the original. Really there was no point to this movie- just selling cheap thrills to illiterate hillbillies.

The verdict: It’s good, but don’t bother. Just go see the real one. And if the thought of sitting through a 92 minute movie while reading subtitles is unpleasant to you, then go stab yourself in the eyeballs with a rusty pocket knife and watch this one. You’ll still be able to hear all the dialogue in English.

  1. Is it scary: 6- It’s definitely scary but I think something is lost from the original. They cranked up the voltage on the action and it didn’t quite have the scare caliber anymore.
  2. Originality: 1- Literally almost exactly the same. Nothing new whatsoever. The only thing they changes was the reasoning behind the infection. And the new explanation was worse.
  3. Blood: 7- Definitely a bloody mess. That was the best part of this one. They stayed true to the gore factor.
  4. Believability: 4– As with the original, I had problems believing that people would do a lot of what they did in this movie. I just felt that peoples’ reactions to the situations were unrealistic.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 5- Found Footage: Minus 1 point. They seemed to use the found footage as a way to get around showing us certain things. I want to see what’s happening. It doesn’t add to the authenticity or believability to have the camera shaking everywhere. Even if it did, would it be worth it at the cost of showing the audience what’s going on? No.

Final Score: 23/50

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[Rec] 2 (2009) – Paco Plaza, Jaume Balagueró

 

Making a sequel isn’t easy. You basically have two options. Try to continue the story, or just recycle the same elements from the first one but just crank up the volume. The latter is not preferable (Speed II: Cruise Control, Escape from L.A., Tyler Perry’s: Why Did I Get Married Too?) We’ve seen too many wonderful franchises fall victim to the Hollywood hype. Usually you lose a director or a lead actor. Maybe both. The budget usually goes up but the quality goes down. Otherwise, you can just continue on with the story. It’s tempting to try and retrofit a new plotline onto the original film. I generally don’t advise this. But Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza get it right in [Rec] 2, their 2009 follow-up to [Rec]. It’s another found footage (ugh) zombie flick but it expands on the religious explanation for the zombie outbreak that was just touched on in the first one.

In general, I liked the way this movie was done, but I do want to say that I don’t think the first movie needed a sequel. Yeah it left you with a lot of questions, but was scarier that way. [Rec] 2 feels like it is a part of the first movie. It takes place right where the other movie ends, and we even get to see some of the characters from the first that (we thought) were dead.

The opening scene of this movie is actually the final scene of the original. Then it cuts to a new crew. The premise of this one is that a swat team and a medical examiner are entering the quarantined building from the first movie to assess/contain the outbreak. SWAT guys has a camera on his helmet and they periodically call these cameras up to show what each guy is seeing. So they go through the apartment building and we see blood, body parts on the floor where people got killed in the first one but there’s nobody there. They hear noises upstairs so they work their way up through the floors to the penthouse where the first movie ended. Once we’re up there, we find out that the medical examiner knows more than he’s letting on and he’s got some other objectives besides saving civilians.

We learn that the virus that broke out in the apartment was actually engineered (in this apartment building) and somehow makes the host susceptible to possession by a demon. This demon is what makes people turn crazy and start eating each other. The medical examiner actually turns out to be a priest who is looking for a blood sample from the original possessed/infected girl so an antidote can be synthesized. We met this “girl” in the first movie and the meeting was..well, unpleasant. The squad finds a blood sample but it bursts into flames when the priest does a test on it (remember the blood scene in The Thing). Now they have to track down the actual girl and draw some of her blood. Needless to say that proves more difficult than it sounds. The team runs into several more zombies and a group of kids who snuck in to the building. Things get messy.

Overall, this movie does a good job of maintaining what we loved about the original while adding enough to make it interesting and keep us guessing. The claustrophobic feeling you get from the long, cramped hallways is still there. Everything is dark and lit by flashlights, helicopter spot lights, or night vision. It’s hard to see what’s right in front of you. It really pulls you in and makes you feel like you’re in the room with these people and these monsters. I usually don’t like when they recycle the same shots in a sequel, but there are some more incredible night vision shots in this one too. So crazy suspenseful and scary.

As for the “found footage” thing. I’m getting a little tired of it. The whole documentary/mockumentory/cockumentory (ok I made that last one up- but if you were going to make a documentary about porn or well, dicks I guess, it would be perfect) film style is gimmicky and, in my opinion, a little bit of a cop out. I’m all for innovation and trying new things with filmmaking, but let’s move on. I get that it’s supposed to draw the viewer in and give the movie a more authentic feel, but why can’t you do that with the writing and the acting? Don’t get me wrong, Balagueró and Plaza do a good job with this one and I don’t feel that they used the style as a crutch. In fact they played with it a bit. The brought in 2 other characters with cameras as well as cycling through several SWAT helmet –mounted cameras. That helped break up the POV and let us meet the characters behind the cameras a bit. This was a nice touch.

Overall, this was a slick modern zombie movie. I like how they bridged the gap from the first film to the sequel. There’s a third installment out and it’s got the same directors. That’s a good sigh. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it. I’ll be posting a review as soon as I see it.

  1. Is it scary: 7- Dark, claustrophobic, and creepy. The atmosphere is perfect and to boot there are nasty fast zombies around every turn.
  2. Originality: 5- Nice addition to the story of the first movie. I like that the explanation of where the zombies came from. It was plausible but not too specific to draw extra attention to it.
  3. Blood: 7- Pretty damn bloody. Not over the top, but just what you’d expect from this one.
  4. Believability: 6–There were a few scenes where I was practically yelling at the screen. “Shoot him. SHOOT HIM!” These SWAT guys were a little too reserved with their ammo. There’s a certain point where you’d shoot just about anybody snarling and hissing blood and charging at you in a dead sprint. And yet, they didn’t, and now they’re dead.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6- Like I said, setting: great. Creepy, cramped and scary. Found footage cinematography: ehh. Balagueró and Plaza handled it as well as anyone, but still minus 1 point. Too gimmicky.

Final Score: 31/50

REC (2007) – Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

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Continuing with my theme of zombies for the week is the this Spanish found-footage (first-person/ Blair Witch-style) flick, REC. Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza give us a new twist on the zombie genre while mixing in some other psychological elements, mostly brought on by the use of the first-person style. The shaky/choppy camera makes it hard to really see what’s happening, and that really conveys the feeling of chaos and fear happening on screen. Most of the movie takes place inside of a locked-down/quarantined apartment building. This adds to the mix a nice feeling of claustrophobia and helplessness. Add to this some modern, fast-paced, nasty zombies, a bunch of dark corners and hallways, and a sinister back story  and you’ve got a damn scary movie.

Now, there are a few elements that I disagree with, but overall, I think this is a really good horror movie. I get the feeling that the camera style is actually used to make up for or conceal something that’s lacking. They seem to be using the fact that you can’t see what’s happening as an excuse to not fully develop certain things. Maybe I’m just being picky. I’ve never been a big fan of this style. I want to see what’s happening. Have confidence in your scenery, and your special effects and show me everything. This only came up a couple of times specifically so maybe I’m just overreacting.

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I have two other serious problems with the whole first-person camera style and then I’ll drop it. First, how the hell does the battery last long enough to film an entire movie? He’s using the floodlights and night vision for half the film. That’s got to eat up a lot of battery. (There’s actually a scene in Cloverfield where he stops and turns off the camera to charge it. Thank you.)  And secondly, I’m having trouble believing that the police or the clandestine CDC-style agents in nuclear melt-down gear are allowing this dude with a professional TV camera just follow them around while they shoot and club and snap the necks of sick old ladys and kids. But you just have to suspend your disbelief for a bit and get over it because the movie is actually really good. Don’t get too hung up on things like logic or believability. After all, you’re here to watch people eat each other. And don’t worry, there’s lots of that.

Ok so the movie opens up with Angela, a TV hostess who’s documenting the operations of a local fire station. Soon they get a call and she and her cameraman are off with them to rescue an old woman who’s trapped in her apartment. As soon as we show up, we find out there’s more going on in this apartment. The old lady is screaming gibberish (or Spanish? maybe both) and soaked in blood and she tries to eat the paramedics. So the cops and paramedics try to escape and get their wounded comrade to a hospital, but the Spanish version of the CDC comes along and blocks all the exits so nobody can get out. It becomes pretty apparent that the old lady’s condition is contagious and everyone basically starts eating everyone else.

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Now we’re trapped in this building, which is actually pretty dark and creepy already and everyone is screaming and fighting and eating each other. It’s like a night club but instead of Ecstasy, everyone is doing bath salts. So the ever-dwindling number of survivors tries to find a way to escape. They plan to go to the basement but somehow they end up in the attic (go figure) and there we find out the source of the infection. And there’s a couple of other surprises up there too.

The climactic scene is just about perfect and really scary as hell. It’s dark and suspenseful and exciting and terrifying and…OH MY GOD, WHY THE FUCK IS SHE BREATHING SO LOUDLY. CONTROL YOURSELF. It’s so intense my fists clenched up and I said this to the screen. Get a grip. Okay. All things considered, this movie really delivers everything you want it to. It spawned a pretty decent sequel and a really good U.S. remake (which spawned a god-awful piece of shit sequel) and I think there’s even a REC 3 out there.

Let’s see how the original stands up to the rating system.

  1. Is it scary: 8- Its creepy, it’s in your head and it’s in your face. The whole thing is really scary. It even builds up and gets more scary and intense as it goes.
  2. Originality: 7-They’ve done a good job updating an aging genre while maintaining the roots of what we love about it. I like the way they explain the way the infection was started. Clever twist.
  3. Blood: 7- We want lots of blood in a zombie movie and REC definitely delivers.
  4. Believability: 4- There was a lot here to make peace with before you could really enjoy this one. Also, they spent the whole fucking movie running up the stairs (I know they didn’t have much choice here but I have to call them on it.)
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 6- I’m conflicted on this one. I’m not a big fan of the first-person thing – I feel like it’s kinda cheap and gimmicky. On the other hand, there are some cool shots and the setting is definitely creepy as hell.

Final Score: 32/50

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