[REC] is one of those rare, early found footage movies that was released prior to the found footage craze. Unfortunately, however, that doesn't necessarily make it a good movie. The film is set up to be part of a television series, the host being a young woman named Angela (Manuela Velasco). She, along with her one cameraman, are documenting what it's like to work as a firefighter. The firefighters are soon called out to attend to a screaming woman, because apparently firefighters do that now, and so Angela follows, documenting it all. When they arrive, however, they're soon locked in the building for unknown reasons, and it's here that they discover an abundance of evil.
Before I begin to delve into why this film just didn't work for me, I am just going to point out that I really wanted to like this movie. I'm a big horror junkie and when found footage is used right, and I heard that this film did just that, it can actually be rather effective. Just look at the Paranormal Activity franchise. The first three films in that series were insanely effective and rather frightening. Then they stopped using the found footage aspect well and the next two films were rubbish. [REC], in terms of quality, is more like the last two Paranormal Activity instalments than the first three.
While I can't necessarily say I found this film to be scary, I will give it credit for having a solid build up. This film's first act was great. It was shaping out to be one of the best found footage movies around, full of tension and atmosphere, plus there was a pretty logical reason as to why these characters refused to stop filming, even if that's lost later in the film. Then the build up kept going and going and going. There was a point where it should've stopped, but it didn't. It refused to stop setting up these characters, resulting in more than half the film's runtime being dedicated to build up.
What bugs me the most about all this build up is the fact that this film is only an hour and eighteen minutes long. I was thankful that the film itself was rather short as it's very dull, but it's only dull because of how much set up there is. There's not a lot that actually takes place until the final few minutes where everything seems to escalate dramatically. There wasn't enough time given to playing around with the scares and the atmosphere they created and the final result is far from good.
[REC] is also rather predictable, and in every sense of the word. The fates of the characters can be seen a mile away, the 'scares' are insanely obvious and the actual storyline follows down a familiar pathway. We've seen it all before, and not just in found footage horror movies, but in horror movies in general. There's a bunch of people just there to be killed or, well, have other stuff happen to them, but you'll have to find out for yourself what. These characters make dumb decisions too, which also results in a predictable scare taking place, hence the scare gets ruined.
It's not until the final few minutes where, as I said earlier, everything escalates and things begin to get interesting. Sure, it's still not overly scary, but the storyline goes in a very rapid direction that I didn't see coming. I was still one step ahead for the most part, but that's not what I enjoyed about it. What I enjoyed about it was that the atmosphere from way back when returned. Filmed in night vision, the film's finale is arguably the film's greatest scene.
To sum up, [REC] opens promisingly, hinting at what could be a classic horror movie, but then the set up keeps going and the atmosphere is completely lost for the next fifty minutes, only to be briefly resurrected for the finale.