July 9, 2010
Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza and Manu Díez
Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
Jonathan Mellor as Dr. Owen
Oscar Sánchez Zafra as Jefe
Ariel Casas as Larra
Alejandro Casaseca as Martos
Pablo Rosso as Rosso
Pep Molina as Padre Jennifer
[REC] is an incredibly popular Spanish horror movie that had a huge impact on it’s own and spawned the English language remakeQuarantine which also did well in the United States. The concept in [REC] surrounds an apartment building which is apparently ground zero for a viral outbreak which causes those infected to become vicious zombie-like monsters starved for blood. [REC] 2 is spawned by the same writing and directing team as the predecessor, Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (with an additional writing credit for Manu Díez), and continues the story with a small squad of military commandos entering the cordoned-off apartment building under the leadership of a medical officer in search of something at first undisclosed. Once they get inside they encounter the infected monster-like creatures – and a secret that could blow this whole thing wide open.
[REC] 2 is a POV feature, shot from hand-held cameras wielded by the official documenter of the military operation. The film quality and clarity are consistent with the original [REC] with poor lighting and lots of shots using the camera’s night vision, resulting in a feeling of being in the middle of the action and seeing the scary creatures when characters on the screen cannot. The chase and attack scenes by the infected creatures are scary and dramatic.
One thing missing in [REC] 2 is any set-up or lead-in for either the situation or the characters. Granted, this is a sequel, but this film begins as if it is understood that all who are watching are completely aware of every detail of what led us to the events at hand. The only way to have everything make complete sense would be to watch this sequel immediately after watching it’s predecessor, unless you have a photographic memory. The characters in [REC] 2 can’t be explained or understood even by Einstein, though, as they pretty much come out of the blue and are treated as random soldiers who we are somehow supposed to care something about. When they feel pain or anguish at the loss of one of their compadres there is the human element of being concerned that someone has just been attacked and themselves become an infected monster, but nothing beyond that as these are complete strangers with no background or history.
The story in [REC] 2 takes some interesting turns as the basis for the viral outbreak is slowly revealed. Frankly, the story takes some ridiculous turns and ultimately shatters the dreams of those hoping for a simple story of global apocalypse. Without giving the big secret away, suffice it to say that there are organized groups beyond the government with a vested interest in the growing viral outbreak.
In the end [REC] 2 is ultimately more of the same found in [REC], but without the character development, struggle against adversity or characters we’ve come to care about getting unfortunately infected and becoming murderous monsters. And about that big “secret” behind the festivities? Give me a run of the mill apocalyptic viral outbreak any day. [REC] 2 is a yawn.