Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza on REC first published by Little White Lies
LWLies interrogates the writers/directors of diabolically tense Spanish ‘reportage’ horror Rec (2007).
Anton Bitel: REC seems to tap into the imagery of the 9/11 attacks. Were you merely exploiting a real event for horrifying effect, or were you making a broader comment on the War on Terror and the role of the media?
We are very interested in how mass media create the reality. Nothing exists unless you see it on TV. Only what is shown on TV becomes real. Even on TV, the border between reality and fiction is very thin. The way 11-9-01 was shown on TV could be perceived as fiction. Like a Hollywood movie. That’s something to worry about. Very disturbing.
Is it true that you shot Rec in chronological sequence?
Yes, it’s true. We wanted to shoot the movie the most organic and credible way. The actors never got the complete script, just a few pages with the general story. No dialogues at all. That’s why we needed to shoot chronologically. They were discovering all the details of the story while we were shooting, reacting spontaneously to all the new events. In some way, the movie was growing by itself. We needed just to control it.
How did you conceptualise the film’s fictional viewers? and what rationale motivated your decision (in one of the film’s most paradoxical sequences) to show the shot footage actually rewinding and then replaying (something which, of course, no ‘live’ recording could actually capture)?
We never thought of a live TV experience. In fact, they are just shooting real stuff in order to edit the show subsequently. And we refused the idea of the typical “found tape” resort. What we wanted is to let the audience be the lenses of the camera. It’s just a special point of view: you are the camera.
What were you trying to do with the final act of the film – apart from scare the pants off us?
For the end of the movie, we wanted a special twist. Not just an “infection” story but something more weird. A demonic possession as the origin of the infection was an insane and disturbing idea that could increase the level of fear and tension at the end of the movie. Especially because it’s something totally unexpected.
Does it annoy you that American/British viewers are generally reluctant to watch ‘foreign-language’ films? and how closely have you been involved in the production of the forthcoming Rec-remake Quarantine?
We have not been involved in the remake at all. They just bought the rights to make it and they did it. Of course we would prefer Rec to be released in the EU.
Any hints as to what will be going on in Rec 2?
We are still working on the script. And we can say nothing about it. Too soon. But for sure it’s going to be scarier, more violent, more tense.
© Anton Bitel