What have you done?!, What have you done?! I needed her!
[REC] 2 had an extremely limited release in the UK, infact, I know of only one cinema that was within a 70 mile radius of me at the time, that showed it and I was one of only three people in the first screening, so whilst I wasn’t that sure that [REC] was appropriate for this site, I’m confident that [REC] 2, a film that made less than £100,000 combined in America and the UK at the cinema, fits right in.
I could sit here all day and list sequels that are nowhere near as good as the first film in their respective series, especially in the horror genre, but I am pleased to say that whilst it’s still not as good as the first film, [REC] 2 actually comes damn close due to a similar format, familiar characters and adding a new element to the series.
One interesting aspect of the film is that it takes place before, during and after the events of the first film, meaning that the creators had to tread very carefully in order to make it seem like it was keeping in time and they do it very well. There are one or two minor issues (such as one character’s hair changing colour from the first film despite being trapped in the building), but by in large it actually works very well.
A swat team and Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor) as they enter the building from the first film to bring the infection under control. Their attempts fail and one member of the team is infected before Dr. Owen stops him from attacking another member of the team by performing a religious blessing on him, revealing himself to have been sent from the Vatican to claim all of the evidence from the apartment at the end of the first film.
Meanwhile, some teenagers are playing on the roof of the building and find their way inside thanks to following a fireman who is searching for his friends and colleagues from the first film.
As the two groups eventually join forces and their numbers dwindle, they are left fighting the infected and trying to find a way out before finding Angela (Velasco) from the first film. She is desperate to escape after someone surviving the encounter with the possessed woman in the attic apartment but her motives aren’t all that they seem.
So why isn’t it quite as good as the original?
I’m going to do what I don’t normally do in these reviews and that’s start with the negative before moving onto the positives. For me the series started losing a lot of it’s mojo (for lack of better words) when it was revealed that it wasn’t an unknown viral chemical, but rather a demon that can spread itself through biting others. At that point I personally started losing interest as it didn’t need to be turned into a religious themed horror film.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against religion or religious people, but it’s not for me and I certainly don’t think it was needed. I would have been more inclined to keep my interest at the maximum had it remained an unknown viral chemical. I suppose in many ways it is clever before it adds an element that was only briefly at at the end of the first film.
There is also the issue with Angela’s hair. In the first film she had what appeared to be mousey brown hair, but in this film it has just gone full on dark brown. I know it’s not a major thing to be concerned about and it could easily be just a cause of what had happened to her at the end of the previous film (revealed in flashbacks during this film), but either way it seemed like a glaring oversight.
That’s where my negativity really ends.
[REC] 2 is an excellent follow up to the first film and when I say isn’t as good, that’s definitely not a bad thing as I would give the first one a 9.5/10 and this one an 8.5 if I used ranking systems. It is an excellent follow up and had it been a stand alone movie it would have done very well, certainly better than the third one did anyway.
Let’s start with the little things. Most of the cast from the first film returns, even if just for a cameo as their infected selves, which I thought was an excellent little touch and gave a great level of consistency (ignoring hair issues). The camera work, although through different types of camera (handheld and swat team compared to the TV camera from the first) is still fantastic and gets some unique shots, such as the one below where the teenagers are shocked when the SWAT team threw someone down the stairs (this is before the SWAT team knew about the teenagers) and therefore the “what the fuck?” reaction of the actors and the camera work definitely adds something.
The atmosphere is far darker than in the first film and whilst it doesn’t have the consistently building tension of the first film, you are constantly feeling uneasy throughout as you know that any character can die at any second in an unpredictable fashion. This wasn’t like a normal horror film collection of deaths, ones where you can see the deaths coming, these were very sudden and done with care and detail, even if it’s only the death of a minor character.
With numerous deaths it would be difficult to really keep the feelings that you have towards the characters, afterall once you’ve seen one death you’ve seen them all, however, each death gets you more than you would expect and one of the most emotional deaths is that of one of the SWAT team members (I won’t spoil which one) gets cornered by the infected in a bathroom and as they’re breaking down the door you see him look in the mirror as he breaks down emotionally, watching the door collapse before shooting himself at the last second.
This comes minutes after he almost dies whilst retrieving a blood sample from a ventilation shaft and can hear an infected child scurry towards his location before emerging from around a corner and giving chase to a man who can only crawl backwards. It’s a fantastic sequence and you’re never sure if the child is going to catch up with him or not….although I have just sort of spoilt it by revealing he does survive that, only to die a few minutes later. Either way it makes both scenes very memorable and I would go as far as saying that they are my two favourite scenes in the movie due to how simplistically you are made to feel the emotions that that particularly character is feeling.
That cop is one of the leading secondary characters and much like the first film, the secondary characters are well developed as well as they can be given the circumstances. Unlike the first you don’t get to see most of the characters when they’re not worried about what’s happening or the impending infection spreading, the characters in this film know what’s out and there.
Arguably the main character is Dr. Owens, who is in many ways also the most interesting given that he goes into the building willingly and in full knowledge of what awaits, all without the slightest bit of fear. His growing frustration at being unable to gain a blood sample (such as the blood setting on fire when he puts a cross near it) is a remarkable piece of acting and you continually route for him to succeed throughout the film, even if you’re not religious, and that is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film. I can find myself supporting characters that I never would have supported in other films and it is a sign of excellent film making.
I mentioned in the plot summary that Angela’s motives aren’t what they seem and the last scene is not only acting superbly by the ever delightful Velasco, but is actually a very clever piece of story telling as various parts of the story from both the first and second films wrap up nicely, whilst leaving the exceedingly likely possibility of a sequel…which did eventually happen.
Whilst not quite as good as the first film, [REC] 2 is still one of the most enthralling horror films I’ve seen in recent years. It might not have had some aspects that the first film had but that doesn’t take anything away from a superb effort from all involved. The acting is again superb and whilst it takes a rather religious tone, which is out of context with the majority of the previous film, it feels more connected to [REC] than most films do with their respective sequels.
Without having seen the fourth film (which acts as a direct sequel to this film) I can’t say whether this film would have been the best place to end the series, but if they had then I would have been very satisfied and I think you will to.