Dir: John Erick Dowdle
Star: Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez, Johnathon Schaech

A remake of the Spanish horror movie, REC, this doesn't exactly stray far from its source. While following a fire-crew on a routine story, the reporter and cameraman team of Angela Vidal (Carpenter) and Scott Percival (Harris) get a call to a medical emergency at an apartment complex. An elderly woman has apparently been gone mad, and is now biting anyone within range, including both attending members of the police and fire-crew. Things go from bad to worse, as the complex is sealed off by the authorities, who refuse to let anyone out - emphasizing this point with extreme force. Those trapped inside discover that the cause is apparently a virulent, highly-infectious strain of rabies, that spreads among the survivors, both human and animal. Can Vidal and Percival survive, or get word to the outside about what's going on, in the face of an apparently implacable govermnent cover-up, before they become more victims of the virus?

Chris has vowed never to watch another "shaky-cam" movie after this one, which adopts a line somewhere between Cloverfield and Blair Witch, with a blend of wobbly cinematography and frequent near-inky blackness. The results often verge on the completely incomprehensible, with the film relying heavily on the tension generated by half-seen things lurking beyond the range of vision. I must confess this is occasionally effective, and is helped by a decent performance from Carpenter, as she implodes from a self-confident reporter into a whimpering wreck, reduced to running and screaming for her life. However, it runs into the same brick-wall as its predecessors: the cameraman goes way beyond the point at which any normal person was saw "Screw this," drop the camera and concentrate fully on, oh, the trivial matter of survival. This renders the entire thing completely unbelievable, and the movie also earns a debit for major spoilerage in the trailer. Not disastrously-bad - unless, like Chris, you suffer from motion sickness - but it seems sloppy and, as so often, is a pointless remake of a foreign-language horror movie.

[September 2009]

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