Back Comments (2) Share:
Facebook Button
While there are plenty of movies that encompass a number of vital post-millennial qualities, few embodied as of them as well as as the [REC] movies. They were made in Spain by two of the country’s preeminent filmmakers (broadening international appeal – check), the first two movies in the series predate the post- Paranormal Activity found-footage boom (rejection of ‘90s slick postmodernism – check), they seek to reinvent the George A. Romero brand of zombie (renewed interest in zombies as cinematic monsters – check), and they reference then-current social concerns (carefully inserted political subtexts – check). For bonus points, they spawned an American remake in John Erick Dowdle’s Quarantine (2008), which, in turn, spawned its own sequel unrelated to the original Spanish series in John Pogue’s Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011).

Before [REC], neither Jaume Balagueró nor Paco Plaza had dabbled in the faux-raw artifice that is found-footage. On the whole, their films were actually polished and reserved. Alone, Balagueró is probably the most enduring modern Spanish scaremaker. His influence on horror arguably dwarfed that of Álex de la Iglesia, who predated him; Alejandro Amenábar, who outshone him in terms of Hollywood content; and even Guillermo del Toro, a Mexican director whose Spanish-made trilogy has a fairytale quality that isn’t really an endemic part of the region’s other popular horror. Balagueró’s pre- [REC] work was fronted by melancholic occult shockers Los Sin Nombre ( The Nameless, 1999) and two English language co-productions, Darkness (2002) and Fragile (2005). Plaza had a smaller early feature filmography that included El Segundo Nombre ( The Second Name, 2002) and Romasanta (aka: Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunter, 2004). Both filmmakers also participated in the 2006 revival of the Historias Para No Dormir ( Tales to Keep You Awake) TV series – Balagueró made i]Para entrar a vivir ( To Let) and Plaza made Cuento de Navidad ( A Christmas Tale). These high points for the series ( Cuento de Navidad is a fantastically dark twist on ‘80s childhood nostalgia) eventually informed the tone of their ongoing zombie-themed franchise.

[REC] Collection, The

[REC]


A TV reporter and her crew are asked to cover a crew of firemen on duty. What seems like a routine story about a night at the fire station soon turns into a nightmare. Trapped inside of a quarantined building, the crew must try to survive the terror that rages inside. (From Scream Factory’s official synopsis)

A key complaint that hounds the found-footage subgenre is the suspension-of-disbelief-straining question of “Why are these characters still filming through the trials of mortal danger?” Some films ignore the question, some bend over backwards to explain away the issue, and others have fun at the expense of unnecessary devil’s advocacy/nitpicking. [REC] takes perhaps the smartest approach by answering the question in a very simple manner – the people filming the attack are a news crew and this is their job. Sometimes, their job is boring and awkward, so the first act amplifies the authenticity while also filling in character traits via bad takes, line flubs, and other fabricated bloopers. The mundanity adds further credibility to the idea that some third party has discovered the unedited footage we are watching. Balagueró & Plaza utilize this downtime and the ensuing horror in a more efficient manner than many of their contemporaries, such as Matt Reeves’ Cloverfield (2008), an otherwise good found-footage exercise that spends so much time establishing banality that it grows genuinely boring. [REC]’s advertising pushed the idea that the film takes place in real time (“Experience Fear – In Real Time”), but there are actually quite a few time skips built into the movie.

Besides affording the film an immersive quality, the tightly executed mockumentary/fake newscast angle also draws similarities to the visceral sensations of playing a first-person shooter (FPS) video game. This unique aspect is not seen in many other found-footage horror movies and might have been incidental, because, though the film does resemble a number of video games – Silent Hill (1999), Eternal Darkness (2002), and Resident Evil/Biohazard (1996) – none of its supposed inspirations where FPSs ( Resident Evil eventually released its first FPS sequel in 2017). Still, the correlation was strong enough to directly inspire at least one, well-received FPS survival horror game in 2013’s Outlast (developed by Red Barrels) and comparisons to the Resident Evil franchise seem particularly germane when one compares the story concepts and tone of the movie and games. Both properties combine the violent action of a biohazard outbreak story with the spooky melodrama of a haunted house story, then each unveils increasingly unique and convoluted plot elements as the protagonists delve deeper into the ominous estates. While the officially sanctioned Resident Evil live-action film series has thoroughly established itself to the point of influencing the entire multimedia franchise at this point, it’s arguably fair to say that [REC] and [REC] 2 are faithful spiritual adaptations of those earliest Resident Evil games (minus, perhaps, the sense of isolation).

This collection marks the US ( not North American) debut of [REC] and [REC] 2 on Blu-ray. For whatever reason, Sony only made the films available on DVD here. Perhaps it was a lack of faith in the series’ popularity or the assumption that standard definition was good enough for these rough-looking films. [REC] is a particularly ratty production and was filmed using a lower quality DVCPRO HD video format. DVC rigs were capable of 1080p (slightly better than 1080p, actually), but the camera is constantly swishing and the locations are so underlit that the image is just blasted with unavoidable artefacts – not to mention motion blur. That said, these artefacts fit the material better than the DVD’s additional compression noise and the HD transfer’s increased detail helps delineate shapes, while also sharpening all the nasty, horrifying textures that appear in the film’s final act.

Scream Factory has included the original Spanish and English language dubs in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as a 2.0 stereo Spanish alternate track. I spent my time listening to the Spanish 5.1 track, because it is the original mix. In order to maintain the illusion of a real documentary, the majority of sound is centered and clarity depends on the placement of the camera’s microphone. A lot of the audio has been purposefully distorted as well, usually to imply damage done to the camera or to convey the ear-shattering volume of zombie screams. The sound designers tend to hold off on stereo/surround augmentation except for the final act, where directional effects are beautifully incorporated to instill maximum scare factor.

Extras include :
  • Commentary with writer/directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (in Spanish with English subtitles) – The filmmakers take a methodical route with this track in order to explain precisely what they wanted to do and how they went about achieving it. This means that the content is occasionally quite dry and a little overly obvious, but there are still a number of amusing anecdotes wedged between technical descriptions.
  • The Making Of [REC] (40:52, HD) – A vintage featurette that includes oodles of behind-the-scenes footage and director interviews.
  • Crew interviews (46:38, SD) – A series of interviews interspersed with more on-set footage.
  • Deleted scenes (3:13, SD)
  • Extended scenes (30:05, SD)
  • Behind-the-scenes footage (44:27, SD) – There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes footage, you guys, and this stuff doesn’t even overlap with the other stuff.
  • Teaser, two trailers, and six TV spots
  • Still gallery


 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The


[REC] Collection, The

[REC] 2


The authorities have lost contact with the people trapped inside the quarantined building and chaos reigns. A Special Operations Unit has been tasked with entering the premises, only to discover that this is anything but a straightforward mission. (From Scream Factory’s official synopsis)

When it was released, [REC] didn’t feel like it was designed to support a sequel, let alone a franchise, but it does end just after revealing its juiciest plot points, so there was certainly room for more chapters in the story. [REC] 2 ends with the last shot of the first movie and picks up from there. At first, Balagueró & Plaza appear to be appropriating James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) as the basis for their sequel and is a rare example of the formula actually working. Like Cameron, they bring gun-toting militants – GEOs (Grupo Especial de Operaciones; English: Special Operations Group), instead of Space Marines – into the story to solve the monster problem that civilians could not. Considering that the directors could’ve rested on their laurels and retread the first movie with a bigger budget, I’m happy to report that the similarities between [REC] 2 and Aliens aren’t shallow and don’t end there. The heavily-armed, cocksure GEOs wear body cameras and the directors broaden the scope of their story by to switching POVs and inserting picture-in-picture angles, similar to what Cameron did during the Space Marines’ initial alien battle. The GEOs are also joined by a character with a secret agenda, though that agenda is revealed pretty early into the story. As the film progresses, it stops acting like a retread and becomes a real narrative follow-up to [REC], including the return of a battle-hardened Ángela, who graduates into the franchise’s Ellen Ripley stand-in.

[REC] 2 maintains the first film’s raw visual nature, but is definitely the more cinematic of the two. The directors dial back on the swift handheld movements and take a bit more time to capture specifically evocative shots, rather than waiting for the camera to stumble across one. In all, the first two movies make a great pairing and practically beg for a single-sitting watch. Besides, viewed back-to-back, they’re still shorter than a lot of big budget blockbusters.

As mentioned, [REC] 2 was not previously released on US Blu-ray, so fans had to import from Canada or Europe, assuming they cared about the visual upgrade. Like the first film, this is deliberately rough, though it is more cinematic and was shot using a higher quality camera (Sony HDW-750, according to imdb.com specs) than its predecessor. The main issues this time aren’t noise, but sharpening effects, like edge haloes and blooming hot spots. The 1080p format tightens these artefacts alongside details and textures, which sounds kind of bad, but, frankly, the digital look is an intrinsic part of the film’s appeal, so it’s nice to see it maintained without the additional compression problems seen on DVD versions. The palette remains consistent, despite being mostly muted, due to the oppressive darkness, and the occasionally bright hues (blood red, for instance) pops neatly.

The original Spanish is the only option this time, though it is presented in both 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Again, the movie was mixed for 5.1, so this review refers to that track alone. Everything about this movie is slightly bigger than the last one and that includes the sound design, which features more directional support and dynamic range. As part of the heightened aural attack, the zombies now emit the sounds of angry animals, like bears and pigs, as they scream at their victims.

Extras include:
  • Commentary with writer/directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (in Spanish with English subtitles) – This track is very similar to the first, down to its tone, content type, and even introductions. There’s a bit more discussion about the [REC] franchise’s larger plotline/mythology this time, which is a nice change of pace, especially when they talk about fan reactions and feedback.
  • The Making of [REC] 2: In an Infected World (1:58:14, SD) – This making-of documentary, which is significantly longer than the movie itself, is structured exactly like the previous one, combining director interviews with raw footage taken from planning meetings and from on the set.
  • Behind the scenes (55:37, SD) – This is more of the same. I suppose it’s like the other documentary’s deleted scenes, which means the whole thing runs close to three hours.
  • Deleted scene (4:07, HD)
  • Two extended scenes (3:35, HD)
  • Set walkthrough (9:09, SD) – Art director Gemma Furia discusses set/production design. Despite the title, this kind of feels like another deleted scene from the documentary.
  • [REC] 2 On Tour (8:58, SD) – Footage of the cast & crew at the 2009 Venice & Sitges Film Festivals and the French premiere.
  • Sitges Film Festival press conference (11:24, SD)
  • Four trailers and five TV spots
  • Still gallery


 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The


[REC] Collection, The

[REC] 3: Genesis


Koldo and Clara’s wedding appears to be running smoothly and the bride and groom are enjoying a wonderful day...until some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness and unleash a torrent of violence. (From Scream Factory’s official synopsis)

If the first two [REC]s are spiritual equivalents to the first few Resident Evil games, then the third film is the series’ homage to Paul W.S. Anderson’s more action-based and lighter-hearted Resident Evil movie franchise. Plaza also infused the movie with a dose of goofball humour and cultural nostalgia, which are probably the two things that most distinguish him from Balagueró. Genesis starts strong by utilizing the subjective camera gimmick in a particularly clever manner – a series of overlapping videos recorded by the friends and family attending the wedding at the center of the story (for garnish, Plaza opens the movie like a cheesy wedding video, complete with DVD menu and relationship slideshow). I wish more movies would take a multiple POV approach, because it works so well and so few found-footage horrors utilize a collage of multiple POVs (only Barry Levinson’s The Bay, 2012, and Joel Anderson’s Lake Mungo spring to mind). The mockumentary format lasts for roughly 22 minutes, at which point Plaza changes over to a standard third-person camera, complete with scope framing and stylish colour timing (he’s sure to include at least one night vision sequence, but that’s about the end of it). It’s a bit of a disappointment, especially given the unique quality of the first third of the movie, but, even without the benefit of the novelty, Genesis is fun, amusing, and quite gory for its R-rating. The wedding setting arguably puts it among the ranks of other rumpus romantic zom-edies, Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Peter Jackson’s Braindead/Dead Alive (1993). These three movies would make a pretty good triple feature.

This collection marks the first US Blu-ray release of Genesis, but, unlike the first two movies, the second sequel was available in HD on various streaming services, so this disc’s availability isn’t quite as big of a deal. That said, it is the most visually eclectic movie in the series, so the 1080p treatment is a pretty big deal. Imdb.com lists Arri Alexa and Panasonic digital formats, but I assume these were only used for the 2.40:1 non-mockumentary scenes. Before that, there are another two or three consumer grade cameras used for the pre-horror wedding scenes and these vary greatly in image quality and aspect ratio. These sequences are blasted with noise, blooming, discolouration, and a number of other artefacts, which nicely contrast the plush gradations, crisp textures, rich blacks, and eclectic palettes of the rest of the movie. Between the visual variations and returning cinematographer Rosso’s flashy photography, this is probably the best transfer in the set.

There is no English dub here, which is fine, and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Spanish track isn’t hemmed in by the found-footage format, so it has more room to show off, especially during its frenzied zombie attack sequences. The stereo/surround arena gets additional workouts from a rainstorm, incessant wedding reception music, and echoey chambers. In addition, the found-footage scenes take advantage of the multi-format cameras and the differing quality of their mics. This was the first [REC] movie to feature a traditional musical soundtrack, composed by Mikel Salas, who makes such obvious, old-school scary movie choices that he absolutely must be “taking the piss,” as they say.

Extras include:
  • [REC] 3: Genesis – Preparing A Bloody Wedding (1:57:40, SD) – Again, the behind-the-scenes documentary is significantly longer than the movie itself. This particular doc is a little slicker than the other two and includes more cast & crew interviews. Because there isn’t already a commentary track, it serves as the primary source of information.
  • The Making of [REC] 3 (23:13, SD) – More of the same, just compacted to fit a shorter time frame.
  • Twelve deleted/extended scenes (23:58, HD)
  • Outtakes (2:25, HD)
  • Four trailers and eight TV spots
  • Still gallery


 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The


[REC] Collection, The

[REC]: Apocalypse


Ángela Vidal has managed to escape her ordeal alive, but she hasn't made it out of the building alone as she carries the seed of the strange infection. She is taken to a provisional quarantine facility: the perfect location for the virus to be reborn. (From Scream Factory’s official synopsis)
The (as yet) final [REC], subtitled Apocalypse, almost entirely does away with subjective cameras, but isn’t the tonal and story departure that Genesis is. Balagueró took up the solo directing reins and sets his story during the minutes after the second movie. Following a prologue in the infected highrise that marks Ángela’s return to the series, the action is moved to a boat, where possibly infected civilian victims are held captive by military types. Setting a zombie/outbreak movie on a boat is a reasonably clever concept and Balagueró’s penchant for charming characters helps pass the time between scary scenes, but Apocalypse is so intent on being a mood piece that it never really picks up. Even the over-the-top violence feels tempered by melancholy. There’s little to say critically against its technical and storytelling qualities – in fact, there are some thematically rich ideas being thrown around – it’s just kind of dull and, as a result, the weakest of the tetralogy. However, recalling that [REC] 2 has a lot in common with Aliens, I did enjoy noticing how many things this movie appears to have borrowed from David Fincher’s Alien 3; at least I did, before noticing that it turns into a particular uninteresting variation on John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) during the third act.

Apocalypse was shot entirely with Arri Alexa digital cameras and, unlike every other movie in the franchise, appears very, very consistent in terms of detail, palette, and tonal qualities. Though technically quite adept, this is easily the blandest looking movie in the series. Balagueró and Rosso opt for a desaturated brown and blue palette that really drives home the monotony of the isolated boat setting. They use a lot of soft light and overcooked whites as well, which gives this 1080p, 2.40:1 transfer a chance to shine in terms of cleanliness and smooth gradations. Details are tight and textures are lively throughout. The closet thing I can find to a problem that is not related to cinemagraphic choices is the occasional line enhancement caused by the super high contrast of the darker sequences.

Apocalypse includes only the Spanish language soundtrack in either 5.1 or 2.0. Not surprisingly, the more subdued tone and slower build makes for a less bombastic aural experience than Genesis. There are some standout moments, but, for the most part, this track excels when it is acting subtly and filling the channels with immersive ambience. Arnau Bataller’s score contains many layers of instrumentation, which boosts the production values and helps keep the speakers busy.

Extras include:
  • The Making of [REC] 4: Apocalypse (27:48, HD) – The collection’s final featurette is much more in line with your typical studio EPK and is easily broken down into smaller sections, by covering the filming of certain sequences, the sets/locations, and special effects.
  • Five trailers and one TV Spot
  • Still gallery


 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

 [REC] Collection, The

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray, then resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


Links: