From: January 21, 2011
Warning: Slight Spoilers
It’s taken me almost four years to get to [REC], directed by Spanish filmmakers Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, who deal almost exclusively in horror; but, I’m glad I finally did. Plaza was behind Quarantine, the westernized, English adaptation of the same film, which unnecessarily has an almost identical cover. By the way, if you are wondering, despite the fact that I was not wild about either film I do consider [REC] to be the superior version of the two. I hate to be a film snob and claim preference for the foreign version, but it really does make a more interesting go at the script. Of course, I might feel this way based on the fact that I can understand all of the dumb English coming out of the American actor’s mouths, which inherently makes them seem stupider.
So basically, this felt like a rip off of the invasion of cheaply made, hand held style movies that are popping up all over the place right now; but since it came out in 2007, I guess it’s not quite so guilty. Though I must admit, I do enjoy a lot of found footage pictures ( Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity), I just couldn’t get on board with this one. In part, my distaste of this particular film’s attempt at the style is due to the fact that it takes entirely to long for anything horrific to happen. Entirely too much screen time is wasted on normal humans fighting about how to respond to the situation at hand, (the characters are all trapped inside a quarantined building, with helicopters full of military so-and-sos threatening to mow them down with horrible bullets should they attempt to escape). There is a time and place for movies that focus on human behavior, and rarely do I feel that that place is during a horror flick. I do not want to see how people turn on each other, I want to see them defend themself against, or be horribly maimed by, monsters. So, since [REC] holds out on the critters for a pretty substantial duration of the film, I have to stand by my initial distaste. What is interesting about the concept of [REC] is that it combines both the supernatural and the idea of a living undead virus to get…whatever these critters are. As a result, I’m not sure what type of horror to classify this film as. Early in the viewing I thought i was watching a very strange zombie flick, but the contents of the building’s penthouse gave the virus a demonic twist. I was, yet again, won over in part by the great practical effects of this film, which are reminiscent of the prosthetic effects of Spike Jonze. If you watch [REC], make sure you watch the making of featurette to get a better look at the “creature”. Of course, one thing the American version of [REC] does do better is cast Doug Jones to play the part of The Infected Man, because Doug Jones is sufficiently creepy in any prosthesis.
I went back and revisited these two movies, directed respectively by the same two guys.
I resend any previous statements about it being the inferior of the two films. Upon closer appreciation, I’m certain that Quarantine is slightly better for a few reasons. The story itself is identical, down to the frame; however the differences that are present are pretty great.
The film quality is the most noticeable improvement. Even though the film is supposed to be from the point of view of someone behind a video camera, a lot was benefitted from ditching the handheld look and using a cleaner image. I didn’t mind, and I’m certain that the masses probably didn’t even notice. Additionally, the special effects were a lot cooler. They changed the look of the infected enough to make them a little more frightening, rather than just inhuman. The effects crew was composed of members of Almost Human, INC. which if you do a web search you’ll find a laundry list of movies they’ve worked on. Some notable works include Fight Club, I Am Legend, Where the Wild Things Are, and Stargate (haha). Possibly the coolest feature was seeing how the effects crew airbrushed the infection onto the actors. Very detailed.
Jennifer Carpenter also starred as reporter Angela Vidal. What a vast improvement. I love this actress, you may recognize her as Deb from Showtime’s Dexter; she did a great job because she is very capable of playing characters that are both headstrong and emotional. She was very believable as Vidal because she really sold the idea of someone who is intent on telling the story behind the scenes, and gets more than they bargained for.
So, for once I’ll advise you to skip the Spanish original. Just watch Quarantine instead.