Directors: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Cast: Jonathan Mellor, Manuela Velasco, Óscar Zafra
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Before I get started, let me say that in order to talk at all about this movie, I will have to spoil the amazing ending of the first [REC]. Even if you saw the so-so American remake, Quarantine, you still did see the ending from the original film. That is because the US remake completely wussed out and kept the threat totally definable by scientific means and thus, became just another 28 Days Later rip off. On the other hand [REC], well let’s just say that they took a chance and it really paid off. So if you haven’t watched the original Spanish fright film then do so as soon as you can. When you’re done, come back here and continue reading. But until then…
Ok, in [REC] a female reporter, some firefighters, and a bunch of regular folks get quarantined in a multileveled apartment building once a nasty infection gets loose, turning everyone into blood-eyed, drooling, screaming, and sprinting rage zombies right out of the afore mentioned 28 Days Later. The movie was shot in 1st person, shaky-cam style, a la The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, Diary Of The Dead, and (far too) many more. It was a competent horror film with plenty of blood and shocking jumps, but what really sold this movie was the ending when things took a frightening turn to the supernatural world. You see, this was no ordinary zombie virus, but one caused by a priest/scientist experimenting on a little possessed girl (yes, like Linda Blair in Exorcist possessed) looking for a scientific answer, and hopefully an antidote, to evil. That sudden, and completely unexpected twist, was handled masterfully and what could have been silly or cheesy, was instead scary as hell.
Honestly, M. Night Shyamalan should watch that film to see how a twist should be handled, because it looks like he’s totally forgotten. Anyway…
[REC] 2 picks up exactly where the first film left off, not only on the same night, but within the same couple of minutes. Once more, directors Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza show that they know how to not only make a good movie and pull off an effective twist, but tell a great horror story. While many sequels would have just had more angry infected action and little else, [REC] 2 delves further into the supernatural side of things. Sure the shrieking, biting baddies are still around, but now they can get shot multiple times without going down, walk on the ceiling if they feel so inclined, and can be held at bay by crucifixes. The critters are far more Night Of The Demons than Night Of The Living Dead and the weird doesn’t stop there, but I don’t want to give away some of the more creepy cool moments. I will give this hint: sometimes darkness can be your buddy.
Furthermore, unlike many sequels, the events, and even the cast, of the first film are not conveniently forgotten. This time a number of new people enter the same plastic wrapped apartment building. Some, like a quartet of SWAT guys, led by a mysterious expert, enter the quarantine zone in an official capacity. Others, like a firefighter, a scared husband, and some nosy teens, sneak in looking for lost friends from the first film without the slightest clue of what they’re about to get into. And just as there are more people, there are more video cameras. In fact, maybe a bit too many. Yeah everyone is running around with a camera in this movie and it does get close to the point of silliness. However, as that was my only complaint I had with this movie, and a very minor one at that, that should give you a pretty good idea on how much I liked [REC] 2. In nearly every way this movie works, and sadly I don’t say that about most new movies.
Even though this movie is presented in North America only in DVD format, and not my much preferred Blu-ray, Sony did manage to squeeze in quite a few extras for the fans. There’s a tour of the quarantined apartment building and various set pieces, behind the scenes segments on three key scenes from the film, a collection of deleted and extended scenes, a mini-doc on [REC] 2 being shown at various European film festivals, and finally there’s outtakes from a press conference about the movie at one of those aforementioned festivals. Unfortunately, like many foreign films, there’s no commentary track. You know, even if they had to use interpreters, I’d really like to hear the inside scoop from the filmmakers, but what are you going to do?
Now before you all start jumping for joy that after a good long while of crappy remakes and weak sauce horror, we finally have a damn good spooky movie made for adults, I think I should mention that the only audio track you will find on this DVD is the original Spanish. So if you don’t understand that language, you will have to rely on the subtitles. Now for many fans that isn’t a big deal, but I do know some that bristle at the idea of watching a subtitled film. I pity them, because then they’ll miss out on great foreign fright flicks like this. Anyway, I always try to point out when subtitles are the only option for English-only types so they know beforehand. As for me, the subtitles didn’t bother me a bit and I thoroughly enjoyed this great horror movie. If you can read and watch a movie at the same time, I’m sure you will to.