Different media for different shocks

Quarantine, the American remake of Jaume Balagueró (Frágiles, Darkness) and Paco Plaza’s Spanish shocker [REC] opened this Friday. Yes, it’s another unnecessary remake of a perfectly fine non-English thriller, but apparently it doesn’t blow blue donkeys, which is good for cinemagoers, but hopefully its success won’t mean a Region 1 DVD of the original Spanish shocker will be delayed or remain on hold.

Most originals tend to make it to Region 1 land, but there’s always the odd exception, like Ole Bornedal’s excellent 1997 shocker Nightwatch / Nattevagten, a great little movie trapped in some kind of evil limbo, while the poo-poo remake is widely available. Sometimes it's due to the U.S. or Canadian entity no longer possessing a film's U.S. and/or Canadian rights, or a company just sitting on the original film to ensure their remake is the only choice around, like Luc Besson’s original Taxi (available only on a Quebec DVD with no English subtitles).

[REC] is available in Europe , so we’ve reviewed the Region 2 UK DVD, as well as Cloverfield, another film made up to resemble footage from a single camera found at the scene of a disaster.

Its’ the same conceit used by the makers of The Blair Witch Project (and kick-starts Cannibal Holocaust, if you want to crisscross genres), and both [REC] and Cloverfield were shot to resemble handheld or shakycam footage – a novel idea that works better in a home theatre environment than a large theatre screen.

We have, over the past ten years, become more accustomed towards fast editing and loose visuals; Michael Bay’s maniacal edits in The Rock are less jarring 12 years later, and Paul Greengrass’ edits in The Bourne Ultimatum feel very up-tempo. (The director’s Bourne Supremacy, though, is still the best example of how to never, EVER choreograph car chases.)

The hypothesis, then, is whether theatergoers will similarly get used to nauseacam footage, or should films shot like funky home videos, regardless of their budgets, be made for intimate theatrical venues (V.I.P. rooms), or exclusively for the home video market. Just as 3-D works best in a big theatre with large audiences, will films made to resemble consumer grade or broadcast quality ENG recordings evolve into a sub-genre of reality-styled shockers that exploit our intimate relationships with home videos and newscasts?

Next: more soundtracks, including Intrada’s new 2-disc set of Jerry Goldsmith’s The Boys from Brazil.


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