[Rec] 2

Director    Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Starring    Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Ariel Casas, Pep Molina, Jonathan Mellor, Óscar Zafra
Release    4 JUN (US) 28 MAY (UK)    Certificate 18
3 stars


4th June 2010

With equal measures of exhilaration and irritation, your enjoyment of [Rec] 2 will most likely depend on how comfortable you are watching a nauseatingly-paced videogame at the cinema. Kids today love that shit though, and you want to be down with the kids too, right? Yeah, you'll love this shit.

[Rec] was an effective and modestly budgeted Spanish chiller, with some superior shocks and a neat line in dour nihilism. It also pretended to be a zombie film. According to [Rec] 2 however this was not the case at all. [Rec] 2 turns the original premise completely on its head. That sneaky bastard.

Launching straight into action from the first frame (for heaven's sake, do not watch this film unless you've seen the first one), we follow a heavily armed SWAT team, led by a Rutger Hauer-esque health official, into the quarantined apartment where they immediately encounter the voracious, bleedy-eyed monsters from the first film. Like, duh. 

[Spoilers ahead] However, when one of the attacking 'zombies' is placated by a religious incantation from the health inspector; the true nature of the virus is revealed. So there you go. Straight away all your questions from the first film are answered and explained; the virus is a demonic possession, spread by the bizarre gangly creature locked in the attic. [/spoilers]

[gallery]Not just zombies then. Zombies need no introduction; we've met them many times before. "Hello, how do you do? You're looking a little unwell. Oh no, my brains." The first reaction to this is a knee-jerk one of utter disappointment. Mostly that the filmmakers felt it necessary to provide us with all this unfettered and frivolous backstory. This reaction is based on decades of poor sequels to brilliant horror movies, where the only narrative place left to visit in the following chapter is to clinically explain the mysteries of the original. Forgetting that the ambiguity of the original film was what made it so brilliant in the first place. Just see the sequels to Ring, The Blair Witch Project or... uh... yeah, there's probably more, and you'll see what I mean.

In [Rec] 2, however, this full disclosure shockingly seems to work in its favour. The conceit is genuinely interesting, and you're given such scant but teasing information in the first film, that any further enquiry here is more than welcome. The frenetic pace also helps to hurriedly gloss over any immediate feelings of frustration.

In fact the sheer balls-out pace of the film hides a whole zombie-filled whorehouse full of cinema sins. There is ZERO character development. You won't know, care or even recognise anyone from scene to scene (apart from one guy called Larra who just serves to distractingly remind you of Cilla Black); they are just pure fodder.

Sure, there are some nasty, brutal deaths, but most of them would resonate much better with the audience if you reacted a bit deeper than, 'Oh no, High-vis-coat-guy got shot in the face, he looked like he could have been nice in those fleeting 65 seconds of screen time he had'. But then again, that's missing the point entirely. The threat is bigger than the characters.

Equally disappointing is the stock trope of a sequel sending in the heavies to deal with the unspecified menace from the original. A device we've seen a thousand times before from Aliens to The Hills Have Eyes to... uh... yeah, there's probably more. When your protagonists have body armour and massive guns it's just not scary for us any more, no matter how evil or drooling the beastie is. Stop doing that.

In a more positive twist, the camerawork (and cameraman) is given a more central and ultimately useful role than in the first film. Using the high-def cameras fitted into the SWAT teams' helmets, you are given a first-person shooter perspective of all the action. A nice switch up from the shaky TV camera footage of the first film, [Rec] 2 is the Gears of War 2 to [Rec]'s Metroid Prime.

(Those are both games right? I managed to confuse myself horrendously in that last sentence, so I've no idea how you coped. As a further digression, I really enjoy using those blocky, square parentheses that [Rec] uses in its title. Much better than these stupid, girly, curvy ones surrounding this paragraph, those are the fannies of punctuation. Not like these manly, tough guys: [ ] Oh yeah.)

Essentially this is the film Doom wished it was. Grim, gory, sweary and depressing, with unrelenting religious overtones, and no Karl Urban in sight. I'm not sure if that makes it a better film or not. It probably does. Three stars then. A solid three stars.

More:  Rec 2  Rec  Handheld  Horror
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