“…I will not fear the night terrors, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that stalks the darkness…”
-- Rec 2
Ah, the moan and groan-inducing world of the sequel. It’s the only world where such complimentary masterpieces such as Evil Dead 2, Aliens, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day co-exist with the absurdly horrible S. Darko and Exorcist 2: The Heretic. It’s a world where a light is shown on true intentions – is the studio making a quick buck (and making the SAME movie again) or is the potential for EXPANDING the world and characters being creatively utilized? Is anything gained by this sequel or is it interchangeable with its predecessor(s)? Perhaps most importantly…why should I care about this sequel?
Jaume Balaguero’s [Rec 2] is, without a doubt, a complimentary sequel to the already intense [Rec]. One can tell passion went into both the writing and execution of this gonzo-type tale.
The film starts with a SWAT team approaching the quarantined building of the first [Rec]. The team is outfitted with cameras on all their helmets – a la Aliens (“Wierzbowski!?”) and seem ready to tackle whatever lies in that building. Upon arrival at the scene, they are met outside by a doctor from the Ministry of Health, who also assumes command as they enter through the gates of Hell…
What sets [Rec] 2 apart from just another sequel is that EVERYTHING is improved, from the sound (discussed soon) to the ability to successfully – and believably – tie up loose ends from the first movie. Most of the time the film does not feel like a straight-up sequel, but rather a biological extension of the monster that is the world of [Rec].
One of the greatest attributing factors to ANY horror movie is the sound – without it, there is no scare. That said, if you never have, I URGE you to invest in a high quality pair of headphones. Viewing (horror) movies via headphones with built in 5.1 (or higher) is an entirely new (and terrifying) world. In the case of [Rec] 2, the sounds – from whispers in the backgrounds not heard without the headphones, to the rapid, scared breathing of the camera-man, create a perfect atmosphere of fear. This reviewer admits to not having a 5.1 + sound system, however, the headphones added intimacy – which is CRUCIAL for (well-made) horror. When watching [Rec] 2 a third time for this review – and the first time with headphones – I can honestly say that I was genuinely scared, all because of the horrible sounds I never heard before.
Another aspect of appreciation for not only [Rec] 2, but the entire world of [Rec] is the long-shot. Given the medium – the gonzo “found footage”-esque approach, the cast is required to fulfill their scenes in long takes. A keen eye for cinematography can spot these scenes in other movies – whether it’s the 2 minutes and 43 seconds of action in the hospital in John Woo’s Hard Boiled, or the 3-days-in-the-making infamous hallway scene from Chan-Wook Park’s Oldboy – it’s always a beautiful (underappreciated) aspect to film. [Rec] 2 is comprised mostly of these awe-inspiring shots, where one wonders how many times they were done to be “just right…” One extends an extra kudos to the cast for excelling at this.
Almost ALWAYS, the use of CGI detracts from the movie experience – not every movie is as fluid as District 9. While the approach of filming this type of movie adds to the suspense and tension, it also limits it in terms of visual effects – namely action scenes. What is beautiful about the world of [Rec] is that the action is usually very fast paced anyways – the camera frantically moving around and reacting to the environment – so the CGI blends in very well as one does not get a strong, long glance at whatever it may be. Usually one is too immersed in the action to stop and say “wait a minute, that’s fake!” – a good thing, as immersion is KEY in films of this nature. One needs to feel that they are with the characters to fully feel the fear. Remember the first time you saw Aliens and the marines were entering the colony of LV-426? That shit was terrifying because you were there with them every step.
The world of horror movies is filled with (sometimes) creative homages to past films within the genre. This is usually done tongue-in-cheek as the writers know that horror fans stick to their genre – it's fun too. [Rec] 2 is no exception: take for instance a scene which a crucifix is held up to a person and the shadow is all you see projected onto that person’s face – quick, what movie is that? See- fun! Now take a scene in which blood is being tested and bursts into flames– which Arctic-expedition-gone-wrong film from the 80s instantly comes to mind? Good, you know your movies.
So, if you enjoyed the first [Rec] …or…Quarantine – the bastardized Hollywood remake that is 99.3% identical EXCEPT for a MAJOR plot change and ONE scene– then I wholeheartedly recommend [Rec] 2.
“(A)bandon all hope – ye who enter here”
-Inferno, cto. 3, 1. 9,