[REC.] or Quarantine?

This week I watched both versions of the story following TV reporter Angela Vidal and her cameraman (either Pablo or Scott) while they follow a team of firefighters during their calls for a full night.

The firefighters respond to a call and Angela (with her cameraman) go with them to investigate. When they arrive they find many of the buildings occupants in the lobby with complaints about noises coming from an elderly woman’s room. The elderly woman appears covered in blood and attacks, they shoot her but after a few minutes her body is gone (we assume she got up by herself). Panic ensues when the other civilians hear the commotion and even more so when a firefighter’s body is thrown down the staircase with bite marks. When the group tries to leave the building they are informed by police on the opposite side of the door that the entire building has been sealed off and the Centre for Diseases is coming to investigate.

The longer the group is stuck in the apartment complex the more horrifying thing start happening. They are one by one attacked and bitten and ultimately turn into a virus infected cannibal with inhuman strength (or as some assume a type of undead zombie). The group dwindles as service workers and civilians are turned until Angela and her cameraman are the only ones left. The pair are pushed up to the upper level of the apartment complex and are forced to break into a resident’s room. Inside they find evidence of horrific science experiments and grotesque drawings.

As these movies are filmed to look like they were taken by a handheld camera, the ending scenes are a bit shaky. They are shot with the night vision on, instantly making everything more unsettling.

The camera gets glimpses of something disfigured lurking in the darkness. The cameraman is attacked and the camera is dropped. Angela tries to grab the camera but the creature gets to her first pulling her into the darkness and the film ends.

The overall plot for the film was interesting and both versions follow it pretty well with slight difference here or there. But after watching both films the clear winner is the Spanish, English subtitled REC.

A few reasons as to why it’s superior are as followed: it’s the original story. REC is what came out first followed by the American remake, Quarantine, a few years later. Therefore, I believe it adds more authenticity to the story being a first release instead of a remake.

Second, the camera work was far too stable in Quarantine. A major element of the storyline is that the movie is shot directly from a handheld camera. REC does a great (and admittedly at some points nauseating) job of making the camera work shaky, just as it would be if the cameraman was running around in terror. However, Quarantine loses a bit of authenticity by making the camera significantly more steady. It doesn’t maintain the handheld film horror the way REC or The Blair Witch Project does…and that’s a shame.

Lastly, was there even the need for a remake? I watched REC first and since the film is fully in Spanish, I had to use English subtitles. However, that did not take away any enjoyment I received from watching the film. I hardly realized I was reading the subtitles and I found it more unsettlingly to hear the horror exclaimed in a different language. If anything, the Spanish added to pushing me outside of my comfort zone and getting me into the mindset of horror. Quarantine wasn’t really needed. It wasn’t as if it was an older movie that needed to be refilled in higher quality or brought into modern times. Instead it seemed to me that the movie was simply made for people who wanted to enjoy the storyline but for some reason couldn’t handle watching a film with subtitles.

Comparing this situation to a more modern example, Train to Busan is an incredible movie that is filmed in South Korea. Therefore, I had to watch the movie with English subtitles once again. But just like with REC, I found the subtitles didn’t distract from the film, it enhanced the authenticity…a zombie outbreak isn’t limited to the United States. However, as of September 2018, there has been a bidding war in Hollywood over the English remake rights of this originally South Korean piece of visual culture.

The minute I saw the news of a possible remake I was outraged. In my mind there is absolutely no need for an English remake…there is no problem with the original! Has Western civilization become so self-obsessed and lazy that they refuse to watch a film in a different language because they don’t want to read the subtitles? It’s ridiculous that a remake is possibly in the cards and I pray it doesn’t come to light.

But to wrap up this post and my internal debate over which is better REC or Quarantine, I’ll leave with this…when it comes to zombie films…the original is always better than the remake.

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