On paper, Rammbock sounds like just another zombie movie. In execution, it’s a surprisingly fresh experience. The set-up is certainly familiar: a man visits his ex-girlfriend’s apartment to return her set of keys just as a bizarre viral outbreak transforms the population of Berlin into bloodthirsty zombies. Chaos ensues. However, director Marvin Kren knows that you’ve seen this setting before and he chooses to not waste a single second of your time. Rammbock is a scant 54 minutes long and it’s all the better for it. This story flies, never pausing too long for cliches and never lingering on anything that will give it any fat whatsoever. Set almost entirely within the confines of a single apartment complex, it’s a straightforward chase movie that gets in and gets out at remarkable speed. And yet Kren never lets the film feel rushed or even short. There is enough going on in Rammbock to make you question the bloated running times of most other movies. Rather than artificially inflate the length to a more “proper” 85 minutes or so, this film is happy to exist, to give you the pleasures of a zombie movie without making you wait through everything you’ve seen before.

rec 2

Rec and Rec 2

If I was asked to make a shortlist of the scariest movies ever made, Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s Rec would sit somewhere near the top. It’s one of the best “found footage” movies ever made, using this format to place you directly in the action, to make you feel like a participant in a series of horrifying events. Think of it as a haunted house simulator – you watch through a first-person perspective as awful things transpire in front of you and monsters chase you through darkened hallways. And as great as the first Rec is, it feels like a well-made and utterly terrifying riff on 28 Days Later for its first hour or so. It’s frightening and visceral, but you’ve seen it before. It’s only in the final stretch that clues about the origin of the disease that has been transforming ordinary people into flesh-eating monstrosities start to trickle out. Unlike the American remake, Quarantine, which doubled down on these zombies being the creation of science, Rec nudges this genre into the realm of the supernatural in a brave and intriguing way. The sequel, Rec 2, literally picks up 15 minutes after the end of the first movie and runs with these strange revelations. The follow-up isn’t quite as scary as the first movie, but it’s more action-packed and traditionally thrilling, an ideal vehicle to explore the mysteries of part one from a different angle.

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