Tuesday, July 5, 2011

[Rec] 2 (2009)

Pushing Your Button Once More

When one of your favorite movies announces a sequel, there's usually two thoughts that consume your mind. Like a cartoon angel and devil on your shoulders, one part of you is overcome with joy and excitement while the other side slowly takes over and says, "Do you really expect it to be better than the first?" Sequels have always been employed by studios to bank in on the success of a great film, and very rarely do they truly live up to the legacy of their original predecessor. Early horror was a bit different because no matter how poor the sequels were, we were still just excited to see our favorite villains like Freddy or Jason return to deliver some crafty kills and sate our appetites for their temporary return; or maybe it was just our morbid curiosity to see them infiltrate their terror into outer space, New York City, or "the hood". But when you have a brilliant and terrifying film like [Rec], the fans won't be willing to settle for simple party tricks and gore. A sequel will have to match the enthusiasm and atmosphere of the original film, while adding a new plot line that keeps the story fresh and intriguing for the audience. Thankfully, [Rec] 2 manages to stay true to its source material while simultaneously diving into some insanely different territory, providing a sequel that is less rehash but more of an inventive, if not truly bizarre, followup.

Picking up directly where [Rec] left off, the story follows a SWAT team (fitted with helmet cameras) being sent into the apartment complex in order to investigate the incident and look for survivors. Led by the mysterious Dr. Owen, the group enters the building where they are met with eerie silence, but not for long, as they soon find themselves being attacked by the infected tenants from the previous film. When Owen subdues one of the rabid attackers with a crucifix and a prayer, it becomes apparent to the SWAT team that this is no ordinary virus and that nobody is getting out of the building until the doctor finds what he's looking for, a blood sample hidden in the dark depths of the attic, where the original film's climax took place. In an interesting but ultimately unneeded side plot, three curious teenagers who are filming the incident from outside the complex decide to sneak into the building through the sewers in order to find out what's going on. Like everyone else who has entered the building, they have no idea what they've gotten themselves into and find they may be forever trapped as new tenants in a four-story Hell.

What sets [Rec] 2 apart from many sequels is the fact that it takes place during the original film. Just like Carpenter's Halloween 2, you don't miss a beat between stories, and it's highly recommended that you watch the original before diving into the sequel. We get to see some of the cast members return, although they aren't in the best of health, as well as the reappearance of Angela Vidal, the film's original protagonist who is still determined to escape a quarantined fate. Having familiar characters return allows the sequel to flow a lot more freely than if it were set weeks or months after the events of the original, which is a great way to grab the audience's attention and their reconnect them to the story.

Another interesting aspect of the film is how it's shot. Though it's still done through P.O.V. cinematography, the SWAT team is often firing their guns on the infected, giving the movie the feel of a first person shooter, a nice touch that was purposefully added by the film's returning directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. In the original film, the audience is only shown the incident through one camera, giving it a very personal feel. In the sequel, we switch between three SWAT members who can also patch into their teammates' camera feeds, not to mention the additional footage we see through the teenagers' camera. This gives the film a less personal touch, but makes up for it in frantic, violent action sequences.

Lastly, [Rec] 2 succeeds in further explaining the religious plot line seen at the end of the original film. Though some fans may be turned off by having the events further explained to them, others may relish in the fact that answers are given that provide the story with another path to follow, as opposed to just "We go in and shoot infected people. The end." Demonic possession plays a large part in the religious subplot and we learn more about the origins of the virus and what's at stake if it's released into the public. We also see the return of the Medeiros girl from the ending of the original film, and her scenes are still easily the most frightening. There's also the addition of some bizarre elements about the dark, in which light changes the appearance of the building, whereas the camera's night vision mode shows something completely different. Again, I've seen many fans complain about this, but I definitely respect this film for choosing to take the story in another direction.

While it isn't as effective as its predecessor, [Rec] 2 is still a force to be reckoned with. Containing enough violence, scares, and plot lines to further develop the original film's storyline, this will definitely be one that keeps you watching until the very end, nails chewed to the bone. While I would consider this a truly rewarding sequel, I don't know how I feel about the announcement of [Rec] 3: Genesis and [Rec] 4: Armageddon. With these additional sequels being directed solely by Plaza, I fear that the film may be pushing its luck by trying to further develop the plot beyond what we've seen so far. But I'll definitely catch them the first chance I get, because if I've learned anything from watching the first two films multiple times, [Rec] is highly infectious.

4/5 Stars


  1. I think I actually liked [Rec]2 better than I did the original. I found it to have a lot more genuine scares, which is a rarity in horror films these days. The style in which it is shot just adds to the creepiness it delivers. A definite must see (viewing the original first of course). Much better than the American versions, Quarantine 1 & 2.

  2. The first film left me speechless when i first saw it. I watched it in complete darkness, and by the time the ending came with the girl in the attic, i was just like "Oh...fucking...shit." I really enjoyed part 2, but not as much as the first. I'm kind of more for stories leaving things open (as long as they're not stupid inconsistencies), so while i did enjoy the explanations in part 2, I still liked the "what the hell is going on?" factor of the first.

    i did love the first person shooter camera shots though. took me back to my early days playing Doom 2 :D

  3. Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking anything away from the first film. It was brilliant. I guess I'm kind of at an impasse over the two. You're right, the first was a better story, while I feel the second was scarier. Total darkness is the only way to watch these films. And Doom. Loved it. All of them.

  4. If you liked the [Rec] films, you may want to consider watching Exorcismus, which I have a review for. I originally had the review up back in May, but Blogger shut down and it got deleted and randomly popped back up recently.

    Anyways, it's a UK horror film that's produced by the Filmax and the same producer as [Rec]. While it's a film you'll probably only watch once or twice, it's a far better exorcism film than most of the trite crap that's released in the mainstream every year. Plus, it has a cameo by Doug Bradley (Pinhead from Hellraiser), and I barely recognized him until I saw his name in the credits.