[.REC]

 ★★★★☆ 

A young reporter and her cameraman accompany the Spanish fire service to a routine call. Before they know it they are trapped in an apartment block by the authorities who refuse to let them out until an unspecified health scare has been neutralised.

Yet another home movie. What is it with film-makers today? Are tripods too damn expensive? Released around the same time as Cloverfield and Diary of The Dead, and featuring a well-worn situation, originality was never going to be this movies strong point. But strong points it does have, comparing favourably with the other “authentic” handheld movies this year and The Blair Witch, probably to blame for the idea in the first place. In fact this is possibly the best horror movie released since The Descent.

The story is very basic, with only a handful of characters. The latter at least is unusual for a zombie movie, but in an enclosed space, it’s more effective and apart from two, all the infected victims are characters we’ve been introduced to so it has more punch. The tension is heightened by the shadows of the people outside playing on the windows showing civilisation and safety is in spitting distance.

It’s a credit to [.REC], Diary and Cloverfield that all of them have been able to use the same basic idea without treading on each others toes and finding some hook: Diary, the least entertaining, had the most ambition with multi-source post-edited material and a bonkers cameraman; Cloverfield stretched the conceit to breaking point but had the nice idea of including bits of the previous recordings form a happier time; but [.REC] perhaps uses it to best effect, reducing it to a simple P.O.V. from Pablo the cameraman, making for a terrifying tour of a haunted house. It’ll be a while before I peak in any lofts!

You might assume that the DTS sound is limited because it’s supposed to be an in-camera recording, but it’s used very well. As the infected grab at the mike and muffle the sound; or you hear a scream from behind and Pablo spins around to look, the scream runs through your room. Visually there’s plenty of jumps and shadows to explore. The light on the camera and night vision are used brilliantly.

The last act reveals some substance, with a play on the regular viral infection now including The Vatican dealing with a case of possession. So plenty of sequel bait!

There are very few, if any, films that have actually scared me properly, especially in recent years. That’s why I say it’s the best since The Descent. They still don’t have the power to make me sleep with the light on, but still, no films between those two have had me on the edge of my seat, jumping like a loon as much as this!

28 Weeks Later

 ★★★★☆ 

Following the events of 28 Days Later, a devastated Britain is being repopulated now that the Rage virus is under control. But a family coming back together proves disastrous and it’s on the move again.

28 Weeks Later starts with an incredible sequence featuring survivors in a farmhouse coming under a vicious attack. Dom (Robert Carlyle) is the only survivor, leaving his wife for dead, running from what can only be described as a swarm of infected. The shot of them sweeping down the hill is incredible.

The missus pops up later on surviving because she is a carrier; unaffected by the virus but still contagious. Her son is the same and 28 weeks after the outbreak, he and his older sister return to Britain and their dad, now living and working in the green zone. This family is the films focus and strength. While they expand the story logically and present a terrifyingly feasible Britain completely broken, the story stays grounded by sticking with the family.

It’s incredibly bleak and gory. A sequence with a helicopter and field full of infected should go down as a horror classic! This visceral, in-your-face style in unrelenting, an improvement on the original I feel. There are holes in the story if you want to be picky, but first and foremost this is entertainment.

28 Days Later and the remake of Dawn of the Dead caused debate amongst horror fans about what type of zombie they thought was correct: runners or shufflers. I prefer the latter, but I think the full speed zombies can be excused here because they aren’t dead; they’re poorly.

But regardless of your opinion, this compares rather too well with its contemporaries. I liked Diary of the Dead, but what that film gains in social commentary it loses in sheer entertainment value against this. Romero needs to step up a gear and show his slow zombies are still a viable threat in cinema. His touch of humour was desperately needed here.

Otherwise, this is a great sequel. It takes what made the original great and expands on it. And the end is still open so maybe a franchise beckons.