Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thankfully [REC]ycled

I watched the Spanish horror movie, [REC], a couple weeks ago and left the viewing speechless. It was the most horrifying, intense, and thrilling cinematic experience I'd had since... I can't even remember.

Needless to say, I absolutely hated it.

Here were the two major problems:

  1. It was way too scary.

  2. It felt way too real.

So imagine my relief when I saw the trailer for the upcoming American version.

Way Too Scary
While I can't judge Quarantine on its scares yet (because there's no general consensus to rip-off yet), previous foreign horror remake indicate that it'll be half as scary as before, which reassures me, because that means half the insomnia. And, trust me, that's a good thing, because the terror in the third act of [REC] was just overwhelming.

Let me note, at this point, that I watched [REC] as the second part of a Cloverfield-[REC] double-feature, and it was so scary that I couldn't even remember watching Cloverfield by the time [REC] was done, which was extremely disappointing, because who spends money to see a movie just to forget it? That's right, I blame [REC] for the time and money I wasted on Cloverfield, which brings me to my next issue.

Way Too Real
I loved Cloverfield and its cute, adorable attempts to feel real. It was endearing, like rooting for the retarded, handicapped cash cow to succeed.

Take the cast, for example -- the irrational romantic hero, the smart-aleck doofus sidekick, the hot girl-next-door-the-hero-mistakenly-hadn't-proclaimed-his-love-for, the slighly-gothic, sassy girl, and the token black woman along for the ride -- it was like The Breakfast Club's Godzilla New York Minute. By using cookie-cutter characters, the audience was reassured that it was just a film, and that there's nothing to be afraid of, everything's okay.

In contrast, however, [REC] takes realism to an extreme. You never get to know the characters, just like real life, there's no backstory, except when the camera discovers it, and there's no gimmicky flashbacks for emotional resonance. The only emotion there was pure unadulterated fear, which is just plain scary.

Furthermore, it's geniuinely grainy, sloppy, low-budget, and flawed and it felt like they hired an amateur to shoot it (as opposed feeling like a seasoned professional jiggled the camera a bit while making smart-ass comments to lighten the mood).

It was too believable. And nobody goes to movies to experience reality, they go for escape. They go for clear-cut monsters and pretty young casts running sweatily.

Which brings us back to Quarantine. Cloverfield's polish is back, its attractive cast is back, and even the monsters look like movie monsters, unlike the very human-looking infectees of the original. And, finally, even the exposition is back, because God knows reality never has a prologue.

Thank goodness Quarantine is here to save us from the horror of [REC].

[REC]: 8/10
Cloverfield: 5/10

1 comment:

Pacze Moj said...

Cloverfield being amateur was about as convincing and annoying as Tyra Banks being homeless.

I think one of the biggest problems for this type of film is first explaining the existence of the camera and then explaining why it keeps rolling.

Cloverfield sucked it up on both counts. And then, as you point out, went for the wrong emotions. Last scene: cringe.