REC featuring Manuela Velasco, 2007

+Rec is a 2007 Spanish language horror movie starring Manuela Velasco, which was remade in 2008 as the English language film ‘Quarantine’. The two films are remarkably similar.

In both the original Spanish ‘REC’ and the US English ‘Quarantine’; the film follows TV reporter and her camera man as they document day to day (or night to night) activities of a local fire department. A routine call goes terribly wrong when the fire department responds to an emergency call to an apartment building where tenants have reported hearing an elderly resident screaming and fear for her safety, called emergency services.

The local police and the fire department arrive at the building only to be attacked by elderly resident. Events unfold and the apartment building is quarantined by the Health department (the CDC in the the US version) to contain a viral outbreak that turns people into crazed, violent, flesh eating zombies.

While Rec lacks the polish and visual effects that American audiences have come to expect, it isn’t really fair to say that Rec is bad. The film is as creepy as “Quarantine” and in the end actually makes more sense. Some story elements were changed for the US version, but after watching REC these changes seem unimportant and maybe even counter intuitive. For example, a character who was a veterinarian in the US remake was originally an internist (nurse) in the Spanish version.

Something that I did find interesting was the Spanish perspective on foreign immigrants. A Japanese family lives in the apartment building in REC while Quarantine featured a Nigerian Family. In Rec, the Japanese speak fluent Spanish and are only mildly resented by their neighbors. In the US version the Nigerians barely speak any English and are regarded as outsiders.

Speaking of Japanese, it would seem that horror imported from Spain suffers less loss in translation than Japanese films like Ju-On and Ringu. Not that I didn’t enjoy the Grudge and The Ring, but I think the cultural divide is greater between US and Japanese audiences.


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