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Stars: Jennifer Carpenter, Johnathon Schaech, Rade Serbedzija, Greg Germann, Jay Hernandez, Steve Harris, Columbus Short, Andrew Fiscella

Director: John Erick Dowdle

Pretty much a scene-for-scene remake of the Spanish horror classic REC. If you saw that, you probably won't want to bother with this carbon copy, but if you didn't this will seem pretty scary.

Spending an evening with the Los Angeles firefighters, fun-loving TV reporter Angela (Carpenter) soon finds the night holds more than she bargained for. Called to an old, five-storey building, the firemen (and two police officers) are attacked by an elderly woman, who bites one of them, infecting him with what a vet, resident in the building, describes as a human form of rabies, but one which grips the victim much sooner with raging madness.

Before long, others are infected and, attempting to escape, the survivors find the building cordoned off by hundreds of police and government vehicles, in what a fireman perceives as a 'biological, chemical or nuclear threat'. Help seems to be at hand with the arrival of two men in chemical suits, but it's a false dawn.

Turns out the 'rabies' is in fact the 'armageddon virus', a contagion that rapidly spreads through the building, engulfing all but Angela and her cameraman, who flee to the attic, where they do silly things like opening the trapdoor to a loft.

Although still gruesomely compelling, this does lack the immediacy, freshness and sheer desperation of the original, with Carpenter more hysterical and less sympathetic than the feisty Manuela Velasco of the Spanish version. A copy is, after all, however well made, still a copy.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Sony (Screen Gems). Colour.
89 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 16 Nov 2008