Rec 2 is the highly competent sequel to the Spanish horror film Rec, in which the massacre of an appartment block is caught on camera by an unsuspecting film crew for a TV show. Rec 2 picks up the action from almost immediately after the first film finishes, focusing this time on a SWAT team mobilised to go in and protect a doctor who needs to extract a sample from one of the victims in order to determine exactly what happened and how it can be combatted.
The trick here is in uncovering some of the mysteries the first film left us with. Rec's directors, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, were very careful to show only what you would see from the camera, leaving snippets and shocks for the second film to explore. The beauty though, is that far from suffering the curse of the sequel and giving us what we think we want from it, the directors do the exact same thing again, teasing us and taunting us with what we do and don't see. And this is why it works.
The other difference is whereas beforehand we had just the one camera, this time we have perhaps a shorter buildup to the finale but shown from two perspectives: firstly the SWAT team, and then from the perspective of a group of teens who squirm their way in letting curiosity get the better of them. This does allow us as viewers a small amount of reprise from the single camera footage that the first film gave us. The other thing they do cleverly is allow a sort of camera relay, using first one and then another for the SWAT team as panic sets in.
The panic really is what sells the sequel. We as viewers know what they're going to encounter, or at least the sort of thing: zombified and possessed humans whose infections have spread through saliva, usually biting. There are some freaky voice exchanges, blacked out eyes and effective special effects at work here, and the whole crew must be commended on delivering an atmosphere that balances that of the first film.
The acting is once again frantic and frenetic, snippets of conversation giving way to absolute panic and desperation, all elements of pride left firmly at the door. Minimal lighting and the use of night vision on the camera once again have their required effects, and the whole thing made me jump almost as much as the first film. What it did in addition though is add a creepier nature and more of an explanation as to what is going on. The back story touched on in the first film is elaborated on here and to an almost satisfactory level. I say almost as they have left plenty for a third and apparently fourth film to explain, and I've got to say I'm really looking forward to seeing them.
The film is scary, make no bones about it. You'll probably jump, want to shy away, want to see things in your peripheral as opposed to seeing things directly, as if that would help. But you'll find it hard to look away. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles, and after getting used to this in the first film I didn't find it an issue at all here. This isn't why you have to look at the screen though. It's because it's a compelling sequel. Sure, it's inferior compared to the first film as it loses the initial intrigue and not knowing what's around the corner, so they try and spice it up with a bit of twist. It's up to you to work out what it is and whether or not you think it worked, but I liked the effort. This sequel works because they've expanded on what was successful with the first film but not completely given in and blurted out everything. Things are still left to the imagination, and that is what's powerful. Recommended.
[Rec 2] is the spanish sequel to the original [Rec], which I described as the scariest horror film I had seen in years, and is a highly competent follow-up to that hit foreign scary movie! Carrying on directly from events in the first film (and if you haven't seen that, then this films opening moments act as a spoiler), the plot centres around a sealed apartment building (hence the American remake's title of Quarrantine which allegedly is nowhere near as good- surprise, surprise!) that has now been taken over by the residents inside; all victims of a virus that has turned them into Zombies!
In the first film, a group of Firemen entered the building on a routine call accompanied by a reporter and her camera man recording a show called While you are Sleeping. Now, 75 minutes later, the Fire Brigade's driver is beginning to wonder what has happened to his crew and is fed up of getting no answers from the authorities as to what is going on. Accompanied by the husband of one of the residents, this Fireman finds a neglected way inside (unknowingly followed by some kids with a camcorder) only to discover that they are now trapped inside too when the authorities find out what he is up to and seal up the only way in or out behind them!
Meanwhile, with all radio contact lost, a SWAT team, armed with helmet-cams, prepares to go in accompanied by what they are told is a senior Health Official. The idea is to discover the source of the virus so that an antidote can be created whilst still maintaining the quarrantine. Unfortunately, as the SWAT team soon discover, things are not as simple as that and the Health Official is not just not who he says he is but also has a much bigger agenda and only a word from bhim will let anyone out again!
Pretty soon, the blood, gore, shocks and scares begin to flow again...and there is no shortage of violence as everything begins to go very, very badly!!!!!!!
Though you kind of have more of an idea what to expect this time around, still the pace here is non-stop and relentless! The idea of having two narratives that link together mid-way is a clever one that works well to build tension and suspense though the helmet-cam concept is slightly flawed and, at times, makes you feel like someone watching someone else play a video-game. Thankfully these instances are relatively short-lived and the twists and turns this sequel takes notches the fear level up a level and takes the film to a whole new, unique dimension.
I don't want to give ANYTHING away so I am not going to spoil it or give hints by comparing this to other movies but the direction it ultiomately takes is a daring one and one which, after a little getting used to, really works. Fans of the original may think they have an idea what I am talking about and they would be partly right, but there are still a few surprises in store including a neat ending that leaves this open for further films in the franchise!
Am I excited about the knowledge that [Rec 3] and [Rec 4] are due to be both a prequel and a sequel respectively and are out in the next couple of years? No and yes! I am less confident about a prequel explaining how the virus ended up in an Apartment block in Spain as I still have acid flashbacks from Ring 0 which I am not sure really worked and was the most disappointing of the original 3 Japanese movies. A film detailing what happens after the climax of this film,[rec 2], though has me positively salivating providing they can do what they have done here and do it as well!
It only gets 4 *'s for me because I feel the terror is dropped a notch here from kind of anticipating a little of what you can expect to see due to the first films revelations. This is still one of the scariest franchises out there though - alright THE scariest if I'm honest!) and this is a strong entry...just not one to watch with the lights out and in a house on your own!
How many sequels do you ever watch and conclude "Ooh, yes, now THAT was better than the original!" I'm sure such examples are few, and debatable. For the record, I consider Terminator 2 better than its predecessor, and Desperado better than El Mariachi. But that's about it. Generally, if you see a film with II after its name, it's generally an attempt to cash in on whatever original success it had, and is more often than not a disappointment.
So how much hope should we hold out for a sequel in the horror genre? Horror sequels have generally an even less glorious history than their counterparts. Nonetheless, our starting point should be the original.
[Rec] was released in 2007, and concerned a fly-on-the-wall reality documentary made in Barcelona for Spanish TV called "Mientras Ustedes Duermen" ("While You Sleep"). The reporter follows a fire station crew to a call concerning a woman trapped in a block of flats. The situation turns out to be much more serious than aniticipated. Some form of disease has spread through the building, causing those affected to behave in a beserkly homicidal fashion - think the rage virus in "28 Days Later" - and when the building becomes sealed off with the camera crew, journalist and firefighters inside, the documentary turns into a record of their efforts to survive as the infection spreads to ever greater numbers of residents.
The Spanish original was such a success that there was an American re-make called "Quarantine". However, whether you've seen either, neither or both, it doesn't really matter, because [Rec] 2 picks up where the last leaves off, and fills you in at the start with the salient details.
The film begins with the Grupo Especial de Operaciones, led by Jefe (literally "Chief", played by Oscar Zafra), preparing their weapons and hazmat equipment en route in the back of a police van to the apartment building, still sealed off with a large thick plastic covering. Jefe's team consists of Larra (Ariel Casas), Martos (Alejandro Casaseca) and Rosso (Pablo Rosso), and after their debriefing, they are introduced to Dr Owen (Jonathan Mellor), described as a Ministry of Health official. With headcams affixed, together they enter the quarantined area in biohazard suits to control the situation, and we follow their recordings of what happens. However Dr Owen (as well as bearing a spooky likeness to Everton manager David Moyes, even to the same bulging-eyed intensity) is not all he seems, and when his secret is revealed, we see that this sequel is taking a brave and novel twist from the original, and one which I consider to be a definite hit.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - what you find scary is largely subjective to you. The thing is, telling you why this film suddenly becomes such a nerve-jangler for me would give away the secret which carries much of its impact. I found it to be a breathtaking new direction, and one which I thoroughly approved of, one indication of which was that my overpriced cinema beverage went largely untouched throughout. It had the same dark claustrophobic appeal of the original, but built on it superbly rather than re-hashing what we'd already seen before, and at an MTV attention span-pleasing 85 minutes, the whole short sharp shock effect of it was like being hit with a barrelload of ice cold water full of electric eels.
If they'd nailed the finale, perhaps a fifth star would have been merited. As it is, it's been done with a view to expanding the series. That, and the presence of some annoying crybaby teens as part of the cast lets it drop below that fifth star level in my view, but not by much. If you don't speak Spanish and you think a film loses its impact by having subtitles, perhaps you'd be best off waiting for Hollywoods's Quarantine II. Me? I can't wait for the forthcoming [Rec] Génesis and [Rec] Apocalyspe follow-ups to come out to top and tail the other two.
Because as sequels go, this franchise bucks the trend.
This film is on general release. A DVD will doubtless be along soon enough.
Evidently you can't make a successful horror film nowadays without feeling obliged to turn it into a franchise. [rec], made in 2007, was a popular Spanish film about zombies infesting an apartment block. This sequel, directed (or presumably di[rec]ted, ha ha) by the same two people, follows on immediately from the end of the first film. I've not seen the first one, but I don't think you'd need to have. It's pretty obvious what's going on - in fact this one begins with the closing image of the first one (so I was told), so does rather spoil [rec] 1 if you've not seen it.
The apartment block full of zombies has been sealed off, and now a SWAT team is going in, accompanied by an inspector from the Ministry of Health. They're trying to get a sample of infected blood so they can find a cure for whatever it is that makes people into zombies. But there are plot twists from very early on, which I don't want to spoil.
The film, like the first one, is shot entirely on hand-held cameras, a trend which much surely be running out of steam now (Blair Witch was a decade ago). It's still a good way to unsettle an audience, though, and all the clichés of this type of film are present and cor[rec]t. It makes nice use of cameras being unreliable, and obviously the whole point is to avoid the usual 'omnipotent camera' approach, as we only know what the characters know. It's also good that individual members of the SWAT team have helmet-mounted cameras, so we're not limited to one point of view. But it's a bit desperate that, when a camera is dropped, it conveniently always seems to land facing the action.
What [rec2] really resembles, with its parade of gun-toting soldiers and their point of view shots, is a first-person-shooter computer game. Specifically Left 4 Dead, which also has sequences in which players fight their way through an apartment block infested with zombies, and a scene in very similar looking sewers. Some bits are very blatantly game-influenced, but it does tend to make the film feel a bit like a long cut-scene, which is a problem. I know exactly what the characters would do if I was controlling them (throw a pipe bomb and knock back some pills), and it annoys me that they don't do those things onscreen.
There are (I'm told) small points of continuity that refer back the first film quite nicely. I don't want to say too much, plotwise, as the fun is seeing it for yourself. But the nature of the zombie-infection is apparently hinted at in the first film, and is not the bog-standard zombie explanation. There are some silly but hugely endearing revelations early on, and you can't help but app[rec]iate the effort that's been made to differentiate this film from the over-crowded zombie field.
There are some half-decent scares in this, but sadly no more than half-decent. There are one or two really creepy, claustrophobic sequences, and when it's revealed that the zombies can talk it opens up a whole new world of spookiness. But it's disappointingly light on real terror, and it's all a bit samey. Ooh, a zombie rushes at the camera and we get a close up of its bloody, slavering mouth as it gibbers manically and tries to bite. Nice. And then... an identical shot of a zombie running at the camera. Oh, and another. Hm. There are a lot of child zombies, which is a welcome surprise, but really, even with the extra layer of horror the plot adds to these zombies, we've seen it all before. It's apparently rated 18, which actually seems a tad harsh.
In fact horror fans will feel they've seen most of the good bits before in other films. There are some incredibly blatant nods to, among others, Se7en, The Descent, The Thing, Shivers and The Exorcist. It didn't feel like a rip-off p[rec]isely, as clearly this is meant to be homage rather than theft, but it's getting a bit tiresome that horror films don't seem to want to do anything new anymore.
Perhaps the main criticism is that, just when things are getting bad for our SWAT team heroes, the film decides to cut away to some kids with a camcorder who have also got into the building, and we then have to watch them for about 20 minutes. It's not a complete disaster, as there are a couple of great moments in this sequence, but it takes the focus away from the main characters just when things are hotting up, and asks us to invest our emotions in a bunch of frankly annoying teens. If they couldn't figure out how to sustain a whole film with the SWAT team they should either have got more writers in or cut between the two sets of characters from the start.
The other major problem is that as soon as one big plot development happens, you'll be able to guess exactly where the film is going, and any film needs a bit of unpredictability. This really feels like one of those films where they've tried to cram in lots of different cool ideas, but in doing so haven't given any of them enough room to breathe. What they've ended up with is a mess, a film with some fun scares but no coherence, just a sequence of increasingly similar shots of men with guns running up and down stairs with the occasional zombie thrown in. It's good that they didn't opt for a simple repeat of the first film, but by adding extra elements, they've got themselves into a bit of a muddle.
Perhaps I shouldn't be too dep[rec]atory, as it does have some fun moments (a couple of bits - one involving a blood sample and one a firework - made me laugh delightedly). It never gets dull or too irritating. It's mostly competently made, although there are a few noticeable continuity errors. The acting is all good (although the subtitles were pretty bad, with some very unlikely looking sentences appearing).
I've gone for three stars, although I think two-and-a-half would be more accurate. [rec]2 would probably make a good computer game. I'm not sure it makes a particularly good film.
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With both an American remake and a canonical sequel out a mere two years after its release, the brilliant Spanish horror film [REC] has encountered a turnaround period matched only in speed by the Saw films. However, a far better film than any but the original Saw, [REC] offered a riveting take on the handheld horror pic, and the thought of a sequel was as bemusing as it was exciting. Though the original film's status as the scariest horror film of the decade remains untainted after this sequel, [REC] 2 is nevertheless an intense thrill-ride that's an honourable and unique follow-up to the sublime original.
Continuing literally where the first film left off, [REC] 2 has a crack Special Ops team sent to the tenement block from the first film to control and contain whatever is inside, accompanied by an envoy from the Ministry of Health who is far from what he seems. Very much a film of thirds, [REC] 2 follows several perspectives, including the above team and also a small group of unruly teenagers, before serving up a final reel that answers each and every question lingering from the first film, chiefly the fate of TV reporter Angela (Manuela Velasco).
Though its comparisons to Aliens are favourable and true - in that it's a more action-packed sequel to an atmospheric and more stoic forebear - the real delight of [REC] 2 is in revisiting the same blood-stained locale of the first film, acutely aware of what lurks beneath each door, and observing as our hapless protagonists fall prey to the horrors therein. Reminiscent of many a scary video game, [REC] 2 masters the art of repetition, in that even though we know there's an infected little boy skulking around in the attic, it's still intense and terrifying when he finally jumps out and tries to eat everybody.
Through a series of cameras attached to each of the squad members' helmets, we're given extensive coverage of the chaos, making for a tight and bloody first act that's both a brilliant interpretation of first-person-shooter video games and an atmospheric reconfiguration of the first film's events. Though it rattles along at a far more frenzied pace than the first film, several portions - chiefly when one squaddie is trapped in a crawl space as the beasties approach - genuinely get the blood pumping.
The second act, which revolves around a group of delinquent teens who rather stupidly break into the building, is no doubt the film's weakest portion. However, it's also the shortest section and still features several inspired moments, including quite possibly the best moment in either of the films, involving one of the infected and a firework...
Needless to say, not much can be said about act three for the sake of remaining spoiler free, other than that it answers just about everything you'd want to know about the infection and the whereabouts of Angela, delivering a trio of nifty twists that make an easy gangway into a third film without seemingly overly manipulative or contrived. One of the turns - which involves the team's use of night vision - is especially inventive, seamlessly expanding on the first film's events in a clever and surprisingly coherent way.
Though it fails to learn from the first film's mistake of killing the post-film atmosphere with a noisy soundtrack over the credits, [REC] 2 is everything a horror sequel should be and usually isn't; intense, funny, scary, a little ridiculous, and absolutely convincing in its right to exist. The best horror film of the 2000s gets a mighty, muscular follow-up that loses only a little steam from sequel syndrome, and is quite simply one of the genre's most exhilarating and entertaining efforts in some time.