I was recently treated to a nice early screening of ‘[Rec] 2‘, the sequel to the hugely successful Spanish horror ‘Rec’ (and it’s US remake ‘Quarantine’), and I have to say that after the disappointments of the ‘Nightmare of Elm Street’ remake it was a treat to see a horror franchise continued well…
For those of you that missed ‘[Rec]‘ (and ‘Quarantine’), the plot begins with a presenter and her cameraman following a group of fireman as part of a small TV segment. From a normal day sitting around the fire station, the group are suddenly sent to an incident at a nearby housing block. But it’s not a fire. It soon turns out that the building has been quarantined because of a mysterious virus, and the firemen, along with their accompanying camera crew, are shut inside.
Things get weirder and weirder as the symptoms of this disease, and the film amps its way past some awesome zombie-style horror mayhem to a conclusion that is as unexpected as it is horrifying. Needless to say that I was more freaked out by this than so many horrors of the time that I was pumped to hear of a sequel.
WARNING: If you haven’t seen ‘[Rec]‘ or ‘Quarantine’, you shouldn’t read past here because of spoilers!
With the dramatic conclusion of ‘[Rec]‘ having torn our narrator away from us, the sequel has to devise a new way to throw us into the action. The solution devised by directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza balances the first-person intensity which characterised the first film and the need for a more developed viewpoint as we investigate the oddities of this bedevilled housing block.
Quite simply, the set-up is a military team with cameras on their heads, all co-ordinated by a cameraman who can patch into each soldier at will. This team is being led by a mysterious doctor being sent in to solve the crisis. Using a team with guns makes for some more explosive action as they face the zombified residents of the building, and some of the scenes go impressively far in trying to shock us (I was particularly repulsed by the killing of a child zombie, and the amount of gore it created!)
To supplement the yelling and shooting of the military POV, the directors have also shoehorned in some wide-eyed school kids who sneak into the melee to find out what all the fuss is about. They’re a bit of an unnecessarily artificial plot device but they do provide some atmospheric scenes, not least in relation to the supernatural core of the plot.
The quasi-’Exorcist’ elements of the narrative, (hinted at during the finale of ‘[Rec]‘), are by far and away the most fun. There are weird hints at other worlds and beings beyond our understanding, and plenty of bombastic plays on religious mythology. Sadly the story occasionally shies away from these themes, perhaps in order to stay close to its zombie-thriller roots or perhaps to avoid ‘Exorcist’a worthy comparisons, but those moments in which they do allow themselves to run with this theme produce the most memorable scenes in the film by far.
Overall this is a worthy sequel which builds excellently on the good work of the first film. It doesn’t quite maximise the potential of all of its ideas, but it nonetheless provides a horror experience that’s up there with the best of recent years…
[Rec 2] opens in the U.K. today.