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Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
June 2010

In 2007, Spanish writer/directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza successfully reinvigorated the subgenre of survival horror with their film [REC], a faux documentary following a reporter who becomes trapped in a quarantined apartment building after the sudden outbreak of an unknown, but highly virulent, agent. The movie was warmly received by fans and critics alike, and quickly spawned the English-language remake Quarantine in 2008. But while the two versions mirrored one another in an almost shot-by-shot fashion visually, [REC] and Quarantine had one key difference, most evident in their final scenes: whereas Quarantine approached the outbreak as a zombiefying virus a la Resident Evil, [REC] took a more unique and religious bent, presenting its infection as the biological cause of demonic possession.

That small but significant divergence proved to be the foundation for the original film's Spanish-language sequel. [REC] 2 picks up immediately after the events of [REC]--so much so that the two movies can be viewed back to back as one continuous story--and further explores the notion that the infectious agent has ties to the supernatural. This unconventional mythos, which blends elements of zombie movies and possession movies, will continue to be fleshed out in another sequel entitled [REC] Apocalypse and a prequel entitled [REC] Genesis. The filmmaking duo of Balaguero and Plaza will each oversee one of the projects, with Balaguero helming Apocalypse and Plaza directing Genesis.

In this exclusive interview, conducted by the life-saving technology known as e-mail, Paco Plaza talks about working on this hit horror franchise.

[REC] 2 is currently in theaters in limited release, and is also available through video on demand. Had you always wanted to create a sequel to [REC], or did the idea come around only after the success of the first film?

PACO: It was after the release and success of the first one that we began to think that it was worth developing the cosmology we had created. When we thought about it, we came back to the original to rescue some ideas already planted there, like the demonic possession, that left a lot to explore.

What challenges did you face in combining elements of zombie movies and possession movies?

It was very important to us avoiding being ridiculous, in terms of make-up and effects, of course, but above all, in terms of believing the reactions of the characters, they couldn't just believe what is happening around them--they can't accept but have to survive to it. We knew we were walking a thin red line between scary and ridiculous, and we tried to stay this side the whole time.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

It's difficult to say. Just to name a few, I'd say The Exorcist, The Omen, The Hills Have Eyes (Aja's version), The Thing...

Do you have a favorite scene from [REC] 2?

Yes, and this is a spoiler...When the girl accidentally shoots the fireman. I love that dark humor.

You're credited as one of the infected in [REC] 2. In what scenes will viewers be able to see you?

I wish it were true. We only added some zombie screams missing during the sound mix.

In your opinion, what is the most important tool in surviving a zombie apocalypse: a chainsaw, a shotgun, an armored SUV, or something completely different?

I'd say faith. Faith and strong legs.

How do you divide responsibilities with your co-writer and co-director Jaume Balaguero?

We simply don't. We are there the whole process, from writing to grading, the whole way together. We have a pact, and it is not to argue, ever. If one of us is not 100% convinced of anything, we simply take it out of the way, never try to convince each other.

You're writing and directing the [REC] Genesis prequel, while Jaume is writing and directing the [REC] Apocalypse sequel. How did you both determine who would work on which film?

Very naturally--Genesis is my idea and Apocalypse is his. Besides, Jaume is currently shooting another film, so I decided to go first.

What are some exciting developments that fans can expect from [REC] Genesis?

Excuse [me] if I don't say very much on this. All I can say is that we're working really hard in making the funniest and scariest of the three.

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