Rec 2


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"record every single thing "

June 1st, 2010

Back in 2007 I saw a nifty little Spanish flick that had me biting my nails in the cinema. I've seen horror films from all around the globe but none that I can remember have ever come from Spain. REC went beyond my expectations and is one of the reasons why I have never seen the American remake Quarantine. I'm not condemning the remake as bad (I've heard good things) but as a shot for shot copy I have no desire to sit through the same events with characters that I won't love as much as the original. When I heard that a Spanish language sequel was in the works, unlike the remake I jumped at the chance to see it.

Even with my haste to see this film I had a few reservations as to how the story would continue. A word of warning if you haven't seen [Rec] or Quarantine yet stop reading now as the ending of those films (both end the same way) will be SPOILED. At the end of the last our hero Angela had been dragged off to her apparent death (Quarantine ruined this by having the final shot in the trailer and as their poster- shame on you marketing department) and as far as I could tell the story was over. When the next movie was announced I assumed we would get another outbreak in another location – pretty much same shit, different day (John McClane would be proud). This is the exact approach the Americans are taking with Quarantine 2 (changing the location to an airport) who are opting to create their own original story rather than remake [Rec] 2. For this sequel we were going to return to the apartment complex, only this time with the military.

Back in 2007 I saw a nifty little Spanish flick that had me biting my nails in the cinema. I've seen horror films from all around the globe but none that I can remember have ever come from Spain. REC went beyond my expectations and is one of the reasons why I have never seen the American remake Quarantine. I'm not condemning the remake as bad (I've heard good things) but as a shot for shot copy I have no desire to sit through the same events with characters that I won't love as much as the original. When I heard that a Spanish language sequel was in the works, unlike the remake I jumped at the chance to see it.

Even with my haste to see this film I had a few reservations as to how the story would continue. A word of warning if you haven't seen [Rec] or Quarantine yet stop reading now as the ending of those films (both end the same way) will be SPOILED. At the end of the last our hero Angela had been dragged off to her apparent death (Quarantine ruined this by having the final shot in the trailer and as their poster- shame on you marketing department) and as far as I could tell the story was over. When the next movie was announced I assumed we would get another outbreak in another location – pretty much same shit, different day (John McClane would be proud). This is the exact approach the Americans are taking with Quarantine 2 (changing the location to an airport) who are opting to create their own original story rather than remake [Rec] 2. For this sequel we were going to return to the apartment complex, only this time with the military.

I can't say that I was overly enthusiastic at the notion of spending the course of the sequel with a government run outfit. Every time I have seen a film that uses a similar set of characters they always turn out the same way which is to say dull. Take for example the Hills Have Eyes 2 (remake/sequel), not that it was a terrible film (ok, not great by a long shot) but the characters lack the personality that would make me care if they lived or died. Sure it's realistic that they follow orders and suppress their emotions but it's not fun to watch in a horror film, these characters have a job in which they are expected to risk their lives. If they die it's like another day at the office. [Rec] 2 found a nice way to combat this but overall not a set of characters I would have chosen.

[Rec] 2 picks up at the exact moment where the first ended. After once again watching Angela dragged into darkness we cut outside the apartment blocks where a group of SWAT officers or GEO's (Grupo Especial de Operaciones) are about to head inside (along with an official from the ministry of health). To retain the theme of the first all the officers are equipped with cameras on their helmets to document all that transpires.

So it's a bit far-fetched that this entire incident just happens to be caught on tape a second time but the way it is handled is fantastic. Clearly the original [Rec] mimicked the style of the Blair Witch Project but managed to pull off something which was far more engaging to watch. Many films have tried and failed (cough Halloween Resurrection cough) at this style and it surprises me how many different types of recording equipment are used throughout this franchise and to such effective means. The cameras that the GEO's uses are all patched into one another so that each member of the team is able to see what the other is seeing. All this becomes very effective later on raising the tension as characters are only able to watch as their friends are attacked.

Moving at a brisk pace the GEO's enter the building and are attacked by the infected before finding that there are more survivors in the building. I don't want to ruin too much of the tale as there are various twists and surprises along the way. We find out that not everyone is in the building for the same reasons, we get a definitive answer as to what the infected are (zombies, disease riddled people, demons) and a few surprise faces turn up.

It's hard for me to review this without spoiling the film so I'll try to keep this as short as possible. When the film started up I thought I was going to hate it for the reasons stated earlier, I just couldn't warm to the characters. On top of this things were getting confusing with random events and characters popping up that just didn't gel with what was going on. Then 30 minutes in everything made sense which allowed me to appreciate what had gone before. Mild SPOILER follows. Suddenly the film rewinds to the opening moments and we now follow another set of characters whose storyline interconnects with the events we had already seen (they have their own cameras too). Eventually both groups meet up adding the human element that I thought was going to be missing due to the use of GEO'S.

The film is extremely scary and the infected remain the most dangerous threat seen on screen in modern horror cinema. A lot of the deaths are unexpected and original despite the limited range of a zombie-like menace. The tone in this entry is a lot more dire than the original due to knowledge of the previous event and a sudden shift in sub genre about halfway through. Changing the genre slightly is in no way jarring and actually stops the film from becoming tired and repetitive.

There are a few minor flaws that stop this from equaling the first. The pacing is a little mismatched with the sudden shift to a different set of characters. The film feels like it's made up of three separate tales so its hard to shake off that anthology feeling but thankfully they weave together at the end. I'm sure on repeat viewings this will hold up a bit better as you know everything that's going on but your first time through can be a little trying.

The acting is adequate as all the characters feel like real people but a few of the characters are nothing more than filler. With very few lines they only appear to be bumped off, where in the first flick every character felt as though they had a purpose.

This time out things are a little more exaggerated, the deaths sometimes require you to suspend disbelief, this is fine but we are close to stepping into cartoony territory.

One last niggle is with the ending of this film, surely as this was a SWAT mission someone was watching in on the camera footage via a live feed, just in case something went wrong, right? Who found this footage?

Even with these issues [Rec] 2 is a great sequel and enhances the original by adding an expanded mythology. Sure it relies on you having seen the first but let's be honest if a film has a giant 2 as part of the title you watch it second. Just like the first this also has a dark ending but sets up a potentially epic story compared to the confined space of the apartment building. I would be excited to see how that one plays out. It may be on limited release here in the UK but if you have the chance track this film down, there are few films that give you such an experience in terror. Two more movies have been green lighted with the first next year, [Rec] Genesis detailing the first ever infection and in 2012 [Rec] Apocalypse. Due to this film I will defiantly be seeing both. 8/10

Trivia
Pablo Rosso who played the cameraman in the first [Rec] returns as SWAT member Rosso
The directors dubbed some of the infected voices themselves
Manuela Velasco wore the exact same clothes from the original

Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Screenplay: Jaume Balagueró, Manu Díez, Paco Plaza
Release: 2010
Rating: 18
Starring: Manuela Velasco, Jonathan Mellor, Óscar Sánchez Zafra, Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca


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