REC Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 1.78:1 1080i transfer using the AVC MPEG4 codec. Although shot with HD cameras the picture has been digitally treated to give a camcorder effect, thus it shows all the hallmarks of that kind of picture. When the light is good colours are good primaries are well defined and show good gradation, when the light diminishes colours loose their lustre and show traces of noise – this is not a transfer problem, rather an aspect of how the picture is meant to be seen.
Contrast is set hot during good light, i.e. there is some clipping in the very high end, just like a digital camcorder would be. Brightness in these scenes is also a little high, thus the blacks tend a little towards the grey, again intentionally so. Once the film moves the darker areas of the apartment building, contrast and brightness are reduced to really impress the blackness, this has the effect if dulling the colours, and introducing harshness and noise, blacks now become nearly impenetrable and very murky and showdown detail becomes difficult – exactly how a camcorder reacts in such light and thus intentionally so.
Detail is generally very good, plenty of sharp edges and facial detail, but it is not as crisp as, again, the digital treatment softens the image to retain that authenticity.
There are no compression problems, nor edge enhancement; being digital there is no grain, but it does, as already expressed, show signs of intentional noise. Whilst what you see is all intentional and exactly how it should be seen, the picture is ‘dirty’ and doesn’t have that polish one usually expects with a reference score; this one gets an extremely high 8 from me.
There are two tracks to choose from Spanish DTS HD MA 5.1 or Spanish Digital stereo 2.0. I listened to both tracks, the 5.1 has a slightly wider frontal array, the stereo separation giving some decent effects. The surrounds, however, have the night off until the hour mark when suddenly they spring to life as our heroes barricade themselves in the penthouse; the frantic beating on the door from the infected is eerily good. Quick as they come to life they disappear though. The multi-channel offering is at odds with the authentic nature of the film though, great pains are taken to indicate that this is happening ‘for real’ thus the only source for sound recording is the mike of the camera, there are plenty of times when it is hit and ‘damaged’, thus why would the sound be ‘surround’? For a slightly more authentic listen the stereo provides the goods.
Both tracks serve the visuals extremely well, using sound to heighten the tension, there is no music, but the various noises of the police outside the apartment building, helicopters etc. double up as such in a weird meld of sound. It is extremely effective. Bass is no slouch, with plenty of depth to the surround stage, the aforementioned helicopters providing superb rumbles from the sub. Dialogue is well defined when needed and mumbled and incoherent when needed, again adding to the authenticity.
So which track to choose? Well, in a film that strives for authenticity it is difficult to justify the 5.1 mix, even though it opens the sound stage some, and it was my preferred option, but rest assured, whichever track you choose, the mix is extremely good.
- Making of REC – 39.11
A pretty comprehensive documentary which explores the nature of the film, the ideas behind it, casting, filming and design. Plenty of behind the scenes footage as well as interviews with cast and crew; in Spanish with forced English subs, no promotional puff piece, just good honest information.
- Promotional Gallery
Houses the UK theatrical trailer, UK TV spots and a whole host of poster art as a slide show.
- Interview Gallery
Divided into four features with extensive interviews contained within; Pablo Rosso (19.50) talks about cinematography an being the cameraman and the challenges that involved, extremely informative and involving; Oriol Tarrago (17.11) explains at length the sound design used for the picture, which is expanded upon with Xavi Mas (07.39) segment; Juame Belaguero & Paco Plaza (10.00) in a UK Blu-exclusive interview, and the only puff piece on the disc, talk about the making of the film as a promo piece (one of the entertainment channel specials), nothing here that isn’t covered in far greater detail in any of the above features, but it’s good to have the pair speak in English for a change.
- The Cutting Room
Houses seven deleted and extended scenes, which are; The Fire House (20.33), plenty more “While you Sleep” footage exploring far more of the station and its inhabitants; What the Neighbours Saw (08.17) far more of the ‘interviews’ conducted with the apartment tenants features briefly in the film; Alarm Bells (00.50); Jennifer (00.18); Angela Breaks Down (00.40); Corridor of Nails (1.17); Secret Archive (2.19) of these last four brief cuts, the latter is the most interesting as it plays more of the tape recording discovered in the penthouse.
- Production Notes
Seems like there was a camera recording everything that was going on during production, so much candid information is covered here; Behind the Scenes (16.19) several scenes are rehearsed as we watch the actors being directed and the movements of the camera – incredible the amount of people involved and the amount of time spent getting the ‘natural acting’ right, it really pays off; Castings (14.01) shows the original screen test of some of the cast, tenants and fire crew including the little girl who played Jennifer; Production Secrets, Manuela Velasco (12.15) is a self shot video of the main character, a real life TV presenter, as she explains, with help of behind the scenes and casting footage, how she got the part and what it was like to play.
Skippable trailers at the start of the disc include REC2, The Tortured and 7 Days
A pretty exhaustive amount of material to cover every aspect of the production in what is ostensibly a cheap independent horror flick, everything you could possibly want to know is covered at some point with no need for commentaries or flashy PiP’s; very impressive stuff.
[Rec] uses the point of view camera to spectacular effect in this genuinely horrific and scary movie about a TV reporter who finds herself, and the firemen she is filming, trapped inside an apartment building with frenzied infected zombies intent on killing and eating their way through the tennants. Both shocking and intelligent [Rec] eclipses all POV films to date, including it’s own vapid American re-make.
As a Blu-ray package, terrific picture and sound are backed up with a stupendous extras package, that together with its relatively cheap list price makes this the bargain scare of the year, pick it up and prepared to be scared, you’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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