It seems that 2008 is the year of FPS scare-stories, what with the likes of Cloverfield, Diary of the Dead, and the as-yet-unreleased-in-America The Zombie Diaries (released in the UK in 2007), and this is where [Rec.] comes in.
Basically, it's a bit like 28 Days Later in an apartment block ... and it's Spanish, although the Americans are already hammering out a remake, thus strengthening the stereotype that 'them thar Yanks don't like foreigners, cos their mooovies are stoopid and makes them's brains hurt'.
A shame really, because it's a tense, fast-paced horror thrill ride.
There are downsides though. At times some of the scares seem a bit forced, or indeed flat-out 'obviously coming' (to seasoned genre veterans). 'Oh the lights went out, let's put the spotlight on - oh of course - a zombie-thing screaming in close up right in my face'. Scares like that, are obvious and forced, while others are unexpected or are surrounded by a genuine sense of palpable tension. At times - particularly the final moments - you are just creeped right the hell out.
If you got especially wigged out by the bit in Blair Witch in the abandoned house, you'll be in familiarly damp undercrackers during the final minutes of this flick.
One other annoyance - at times the characters can be cliche-level stupid, or ultra-panicky-Petes. For some reason, these sort of movies never feature a law enforcer who commands respect and has an idea of how to control a situation, especially one involving quarantine. Also - for me anyway - the television reporter (who speaks at a million miles an hour, which makes for absolute subtitle-reading joy *sarcasm overload*), annoyed the crap out of me at times. You're trying to film secretly through an open window, within earshot of the authorities, so yes, keep pestering your cameraman really loudly by repeatedly asking him what's going on. How about you shut up and let him film!
Speaking of filming - the FPS angle - yet again, several instances of 'well that wouldn't really happen in real life'. Yet again - for one - the insistence on unrealistic tape glitches. When a tape goes from one thing to another, it just cuts straight to the next thing, not wiggly lines, no audio buzz, no visual fuzz - here though, that happens all the time. Also - for two - at times the audio goes all 'Saving Private Ryan' - which makes no sense, because knocking a mounted shotgun microphone won't have that effect, you'll get a loud bump and scuffle, or the sound will cut out completely - it won't sound like Tom Hanks having a moment of nervous breakdown on a Nazi-riddled beach!
And - for three - is this supposed to be one continuous tape (you get that impression, as the reporter says she doesn't want to waste tape) - however, it's okay to waste tape for moments that are obviously only there to provide some sort of narrative continuity. Again, in real life, you wouldn't bother filming your host strapping on microphones.
As a filmmaker myself, these sort of things bug the crap out of me. Oh yeah, and - for four - this is supposed to be a professional cameraman, yet he is insistent on zooming in and out almost constantly during action scenes, as well as wiggling the camera around like some scared little girl running away from Leatherface!
Regardless of these few annoyances, this flick is simply a must-watch for horror hounds. While not exceptionally original (especially considering the apparent flood of FPS flicks out there this year), and at times sporting cliched character actions, or forced jump scares, the over-all sense of tension, dread and being trapped makes this an affecting tale of horror. It certainly doesn't outstay it's welcome, at a mere 70 minutes it darts in, steals your sense of calm, and scarpers into the darkness again.