This 2007 Spanish horror film has everything any horror fan could ever want, so why is it so awful? The movie begins with a film crew, led by the quirky Angela Vidal (Manueal Velasco), hosting a news program that shows the inner workings of a local fire station under a fictional premise titled, "While You’re Asleep." The idea is that civilians can see the work of the firemen and what goes on while most of the city is home in their beds. The firefighters eventually get a call informing them a woman is trapped in her apartment. So begins an hour and eighteen minutes of awfulness.
Naturally, the movie is presented through the camera lens, so be prepared for the shaky point of view. Initially things go wrong when an elderly woman bites both a firefighter and police officer. So my initial reaction is: virus. Beautiful memories of 28 Days Later pop into my head. All of the residents, film crew (Angela and her cameraman, Pablo), and rescue workers are informed to remain in the building due to the possibility of a viral outbreak. As the film trudges along, at a very shaky rate, more and more people get bitten. As the plot and history of the virus develops, the viewer is tossed plot twist after plot twist. The virus mutates toward the zombie realm and then takes a horrible turn toward the satanic possession realm. Not only does the plot take too many turns, but the style of the movie rapidly changes. Not only does the audience have to deal with the shakiest first person viewpoint I have ever seen, but they also have to deal with camera lights and night vision. As all of the techniques and plots change, the characters do not develop whatsoever. The only character I felt a strong connection to was Pablo and the viewer never even gets to see his face because it is behind the camera.
What this film taught me is that throwing together a ton of horror movie techniques does not necessarily make a dynamite movie. I don’t know many people that would say a buffet is the pinnacle of fine dining. Instead, it is great for a cheap feast that gives them many different options, albeit sub-average options. This film had the chance to redeem itself if it was scary, but it is not. I am only scared in films where I am emotionally attached. Why should I be scared if I don’t really care about any of the characters I see on screen? When your favorite character is the one holding the camera, and he hardly ever talks, then there is a problem.
Due to the constant manipulation of storylines, I think it is safe to say that this film’s main nemesis is a viral infection. Still, zombie and demonic possession are a part of this film. In the movie this virus is highly contagious, but on horror island it is more commonly referred to as the cold. It’s annoying and may make some monsters miss a day or two, but it will never be anything more than an annoying little bug.
If you liked [REC], you might also like 28 Days Later.