The Good - [REC] 2
By Bill Gordon
We kick off sequels week with a look back at the follow-up to the 2007 Spanish horror ‘[REC]’. The Directors, Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, made use of the found-footage sub-genre while it was still semi-fresh, giving us a ’28 Days Later’ meets ‘Die Hard’ meets ‘The Blair Witch Project’ mash-up, all squeezed into a thrilling and terrifying 98 minutes. Before Jaume and Paco went their separate ways, ditching handheld camera and taking the horror-comedy route with ‘[REC] 3: Genesis’ (which worked as a stand-alone film, but not so much as a [REC] movie), they both teamed up yet again for the bigger, but not exactly better, sequel; ‘[REC] 2’.
‘[REC] 2’ carries on just minutes after the first film, with a medical officer and a SWAT team (outfitted with video cameras of course!) that are sent into the quarantined apartment to control the situation. If ‘[REC]’ is ‘Alien’ then ‘[REC] 2’ is ‘Aliens’, and I’m one of those guys that preferred ‘Alien’. When the majority of the characters are kitted out with armour and high-powered assault rifles it’s hard to be scared. You can’t hear the eerie noises or screaming from elsewhere in the building over the deafening sound of bullets being sprayed in all directions. However, what ‘[REC] 2’ lacks for in scares it makes up for in unexpected twists and turns that are sure to make you respond with “ WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!” numerous times. One thing you can count on the Spanish to do is deliver a satisfying horror experience, and while not terrifying, ‘[REC] 2’ is an example of a decent and satisfying sequel.
This is the part where I start going into the storyline a bit more, so expect spoiler. However, if you haven’t seen the film and you don’t want spoilers I recommend you turn away now and go rent/buy the film, then return to this paragraph and carry on reading! Still here?... I’ll give you a few more seconds so you can gather your stuff and make your way to the exit. Okay, I am now assuming the only people reading this bit are those who have seen the film or those who couldn’t care less about spoilers. I shall continue. Midway through ‘[REC] 2’, Jaume and Paco completely twist things around, making this entry feel more like a cross between ‘The Exorcist’ and ’28 Days Later’. You know how the Spanish love their religion? Well, it appears that the source behind all of the chaos is possession in the form of a virus, giving us a whole new take on zombies and possession. Suddenly ‘[REC] 2’ isn’t your average zombie movie; instead, it is something completely new. I won’t go into any more spoilers because there are plenty more “WTF?!”, moments that are best experienced when they are unexpected.
While ‘[REC] 2’ may shift things around a little, introducing new ideas, it still keeps a lot of elements that made the original scary. We still have the enclosed location, it’s a quarantined apartment, there is no escaping, and the thought of being stuck in there with those creatures is terrifying. However, with such a small location, it only makes sense to change the setting in future sequels to avoid repetition. But that’s not the only thing they recycled. Remember the scene from the first film when the camera peaks into the attic and that child grabs the camera? Yeah… think that… but way more intense and just a tad more terrifying. Whereas the ending to the original probably left the majority of the viewers with sleepless nights, ‘[REC] 2’ doesn’t quite achieve that, instead recycles the same ending but plays around with it a bit more in inventive ways.
‘[REC] 2’ is an example of how to do a sequel right. It is faithful to the original yet twists things in such a way that you will look at its predecessor in a completely different way on repeated viewings. Unfortunately what makes both ‘[REC]’ 1&2 so scary is partially because of its claustrophobic location, but it can only get bigger in future instalments. ‘[REC] 3: Genesis’ managed to take a completely different route, straying far, far away from any similarities to its predecessors, a brave move, yet it just didn’t work. It’s hard for a sequel to compete with the first movie, ‘[REC] 2’ isn’t as good as the first film, but you cannot hide the fact that it is still a damn good film. Lets hope ‘[REC] 4: Apocalypse’ can redeem the franchise.
Follow Bill on Twitter: @2FlashGordon7