One of the scariest movies of 2007 was the Spanish horror hit [REC] that also inspired the American remake “Quarantine”. [REC] took the first-person POV style cinematography to heights never seen before as it was edgy, rough and very scary. The Spanish film portrayed a group of people headed by a few firemen and a female reporter who were caught in a building full of flesh-hungry, rabidly feral people. The film offered not that many answers so it warranted a sequel, and now directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza return to the same claustrophobic concept with [REC] 2 in 2009. I jumped at the chance to see this for a limited time in theaters.
Taking place mere minutes after the events of the original film, a SWAT team led by Jefe (Oscar Zafra) is assigned to go in the very same quarantined building to escort a Health officer to find the cause of the disease. Once inside, the team finds itself besieged by blood-thirsty demonic creatures that barely resembles a human; now, they find themselves in the same predicament as those who came in first. Crossing paths with two civilians, some adventurous teenagers (Andrea Ros, Pau Poch and Alex Batllori) and a lone female survivor, the team must survive long enough to help a priest (Jonathan Mellor) complete his mission in solving the mystery of a girl named Modeiros who may well be the cause of this demonic outbreak. But are they too late?
The original film asked the questions as to what was the cause of this outbreak. The viewer was left to figure it out; was it an infectious disease that resembles rabies or was it something more supernatural in origin? [REC] 2 now gives us the answers and what a pay off it is. Writers/directors Balaguero and Plaza knew where they wanted to take your story as they tie things together, answer the questions while asking more answers. The answers to the “infection” is quite interesting and represents an abomination between religion and science. This is a Spanish film so expect several Catholic undertones as the motivations for such an experiment is asked, the moralities and the pride behind such action is delved into and why man must always be adamant to find his answers.
The idea of a disease coming from a supernatural source isn’t quite original but it sure is developed quite well in [REC] 2. I loved the idea how the screenplay portrays the curiosities that may arise just to see what happens when possession is left uncheck; in a way, I believe the filmmakers were trying to make a strong commentary that man should leave some things alone and that they should accept the fact not all things are meant to be revealed to our flawed human brains. Balaguero and Plaza present these ideas head on as we see Owen and his crack SWAT team attempt to find a way to gather evidence and to secure its source. The movie starts off real strong and while it did hit a small speed bump when the civilians and the teens came into the mix (they felt like minor unnecessary devices), it manages to salvage the slow moments by allowing the tension to build slowly as we see the characters become developed as they go.
The demonic creatures are infectious, they can turn other people through a bite or splashes of blood into openings in the skin. These creatures looked more savage and feral than in the first film; the victims acted like the zombies in “28 DAYS Later”, now they take on several demonic properties, they can scale walls and their consciousness seem to be shared under one singularity/collective much like the queen of an ant colony. As with the original film, this sequel feels REALLY claustrophobic and very creepy; there are some gaps in the screenplay to emulate realism and its very intense set ups. It also occurs in the same place as the original film, so the direction needs to be commended on some plot details that needed to be carried over from the first film; it looks and feels exactly like a sequel. Now don’t think this sequel is more of the same things, it does have a few surprises as we see scenes of exorcism thrown into the mix. It was a nice touch to see the creatures bleed from their eyes and mouth when confronted by the priest. The demonic creatures are developed by defining what they were.
The performances are good. Jonathan Mellor fit the role of this scientist-priest. He has that charisma that makes him rather convincing as a man on a mission and would do anything necessary to complete his mission. The SWAT team was decent and much of the first half is seen through the camera of Rosso (Pablo Rosso). I was a little disappointed that the leadership didn’t have a larger hand in the screenplay. Beauteous Manuela Velasco makes a return and reprises her role as Angela Vidal; Velasco maintains that same magnetism that made her a star in Spain but this time she is much stronger and meaner in the film. I really didn’t have much to complain about the film, until some parts became mere staples of horror when a civilian convinces a fireman to help him get into the building (they were necessary to close out the small girl and the firemen subplot) but the clichéd teenagers did hamper the film’s script.
[REC] 2 is one fine horror movie and is one of the rare occasions that the sequel is just as good as the original film. True, the film can be a tad predictable to the experienced movie watcher, but there are a lot more things the film did right than wrong. The demonic subtext is something a little new to a source of a disease; while not entirely original, it did work as it manages to develop everything together. It is a little predictable at some areas, but the intense horror, the building suspense make the experience all worthwhile. Balaguero and Plaza’s [REC] 2 is a very satisfying sequel because of the manner it took mindful care of its themes.
Highly Recommended!! [4+ Out of 5 Stars]
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Opened July 9, 2010 (Limited Only) | Runtime:1 hr. 25 min.
Strong bloody violence, disturbing images and pervasive language
The highly anticipated sequel to one of the scariest films of all time, "[Rec] 2" picks up 15 minutes from where we left off, taking us back into the quarantined apartment building where a terrifying virus has run rampant, turning the occupants into mindlessly violent, raging beasts. A heavily armed SWAT team and a mysterious government official are sent in to assess and attempt to neutralize the situation. What they find inside lies beyond the scope of medical science—a demonic nightmare of biblical proportions more terrifying than they could have possibly imagined. Above all it must be contained, before it escapes to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting world outside.