Spanish horror movie [REC] is the second horror film this year to use the video-camera conceit. YOU ARE THERE as our cameraman films all the horror that befalls him, and who thoughtfully considers more about getting a good shot than getting away from the baddies. Still [REC] probably predates Cloverfield so its real antecedent is The Blair Witch Project. I always wondered what happened to the cheapo film revolution Blair Witch was supposed to usher in. I always assumed that the movie companies were so annoyed by TBWP’s ignoring the proper finances and procedures of movie making the studio way that they killed all further stabs at this kind of guerrilla film-making. Or maybe it just took eight years for people to make one which was any good, both of which had significantly more money.

Indeed when you look at the similarities between Blair Witch, Cloverfield and [REC], the genre tricks of the camcorder film come into shaky autofocus. The camera, more than the cameraman, is a character (in [REC] it is rewound at one point), and built in lights and night vision features all come into play. A much more traditional first act is often in play too – perhaps to familiarise ourselves with the shakycam before the monsters kick in (the one move from Blair Witch is having actual monsters). But what suddenly hit me tonight was despite potential budget savings from the cheap equipment, there are almost always budget savings from a cheap, unstarry cast. Rather than splurge those Best Boy savings on Bruce Willis or Penelope Cruz, you get a bunch of z-listers.

The reason, I initially thought, was that the verisimilitude of the cheap camerawork would be destroyed by the lack of verisimilitude of a stars bridgework. No matter how good an actor, any star comes with baggage which destroys the idea of the everyman horror. Its one of the reasons why teen horrors can get by with their identikit casts, plus of course stars don’t get killed in the way you or I would ever get killed. But whilst this may make sense, I think it comes back to the finances. If a director has had to plump for cheap equipment, he is damned if anyone else on the set is going to be earning more then him.

[REC] is pretty good by the way, and shares at least one other excellent trait with its fellow films. It is brutally (word chosen on purpose) short, sharp and savage. [REC]omended.