Tall, Dark, and Dead – 29 – [Rec]
Director: Jaume Beleguero, Paco Plaza
Leads: Manuela Velasco, Pablo Rosso
Favorite quote: “There are incredible security measures in place. We know nothing. They haven’t told us a thing. We saw special forces, health inspectors wearing suits and masks, and it’s not very comforting.”
Thoughts: After viewing Quarantine one dark and stormy night, I suspected that I might have inadvertently watched a zombie film. After tracing its lineage and watching [Rec], I’m certain of it.
Thing is, I know there are zombie fans out there who’ll rail at me for thinking so. You wouldn’t believe the resistance you’ll face for just, say, casually mentioning 28 Days Later as a zombie flick. “Oh, no,” said fans argue. “Those aren’t zombies. Those are violent, sick people. There’s a difference.”
What these fans need to understand is that zombies were originally living slaves subject to hypnotic/magical/spiritual/chemical control, not cannibalistic corpses – and are now, as conceptualized by a growing number of artists and consumers, living people afflicted with an illness, not…cannibalistic corpses. There is nothing revolutionary about this idea. I actually find the fact that we’ve cycled back to the idea of a zombie as a “cursed,” but living person kind of refreshing. While I love dead zombies and all their trappings, I think they’ve been focused on to the point of myopia.
Therefore, I am including these films in the zombie canon, at least for my purposes. So, let’s go.
[Rec] is a really effective cheap zombie movie. In fact, it’s everything Blair Witch promised me it would be and failed to deliver. It makes really excellent use of first-person camera shots to compound the sense of claustrophobia and mounting horror. In fact, that’s probably why I like it so much – claustrophobia is an issue for me, and something I find far scarier than zombies. The final chase up the stairs gave me an honest chill. I love stuff like that.
The only confusing thing about the plot is the origin of the zombifying illness (which is apparently enzyme-based?). While it can obviously be traced to the meddling of at least one mentally ill individual, it’s also suggested that the Catholic church is involved. The idea of demonic possession is played with, and this theme is echoed strongly by the appearance of what I’ll term Patient Zero, as well as subtle imagery throughout the rest of the movie. For instance, when the medical examiner finally enters the building, there is a fairly long shot where it appears that a coworker or supervisor is checking his helmet. In retrospect, I believe the intent was to indicate that he was being blessed before entering the apartment complex.
I don’t completely buy this explanation, myself. After all, it’s clear from the film that animals can also be infected (and according to Catholics, animals don’t have souls). If this really is a demonic possession zombie movie, though, then it’s the first one I’ve ever liked.