I haven't seen a trilogy of [horror] films that managed to not only maintain but build upon the energy of the previous entries into the franchise since RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (or, all right let's get the reference in cos it's popular at the moment, EVIL DEAD). Let's pretend for a moment that there aren't plans for a REC 4 so as not to spoil where I'm going with this.
REC took place in an apartment block as a zombie outbreak took hold. REC 2 either takes place at the same time or directly after (I can't remember which) but it flowed wonderfully. It also revealed that the 'infected' were actually possessed. Nice little curveball there. REC 3 carries on this idea and plays with it in an organic manner - the infected can't enter churches, are burned by holy water, and don't like Bible quotes. And it's lucky this is the case, since REC 3 takes place at a wedding reception.
|The happy couple, moments before the shit hits the fan - or rather, the uncle hits the table.|
Koldo and Clara are in love. We know this thanks to one of the best film intros I have ever seen - the film starts as if we've just loaded up their wedding day DVD, before cutting to 'live' filming from the big day itself. But, just as things appear to be settling into a (well done) 'found footage' groove, BANG! a drunk uncle falls off a balcony, things go mental, and we're hit with the title card. 20 minutes into the film. Bravo. The transition from cinéma vérité to normal film is a little jarring at first, but the film soon finds its feet. And when it does, it does not stop running.
|Always remember to brush twice a day.|
But it's not just the sheer energy that makes REC 3 so goshdarn brilliant. The leads feel natural, whether they're (in the case of Clara, especially) portraying doe-eyed love or wide-eyed terror. Damn, if that girl hasn't got the sort of eyes a guy could drown in.
I, personally, would rather take this type of horror over jump scares and musical stings any time of the day. Or night. It's weirdly more realistic and believable. How often do we find ourselves in a situation where our loved ones are in danger but we are literally powerless to act? With any luck, many of us will never encounter this sort of situation, but it does happen, because that's life. We're not truly scared of the masked maniac jumping out of the shadows with a machete as that is implausible; it's the terrorist who detonates a bomb without warning that terrifies us, because we can't do anything about it.
I may be belabouring the point a little, as well as undermining my previous point that REC 3 isn't scary. What I should probably have said is that it isn't Hollywood scary. But, sometimes all we want is a good fake scare. A good movie scare, because after all, if it gets too much, we can just turn it off, right?