Starring: Jonathan Mellor, Manuela Valesco, Oscar Zafra, Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca
Director(s): Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza
Writer(s): Jaume Balaguero, Manu Diez
Cinematography: Pablo Rosso
Original Score: N/A
Running Time: 85 Mins.
Buried in a few select cinemas across the UK the original [REC] was a surprise cult smash, riding on the crest of the current crop of first person horror (as I like to refer to it), i.e. those that use handheld footage to deliver the narrative, it was a film that rightly won much admiration for its lean, mean approach to a tired and all too often contrived genre, offering scares and a gritty realism often lacking of late, it somewhat sealed what was in the thoughts of most…the European Horror scene is where it is currently happening.
Stateside [REC] incurred an even rawer deal, slipping into DTV ignominy by THE distributors who saw the promise in a shot by shot remake, albeit in the English language for all the Horror plebs turned off at the mere thought of subtitles, rushed into cinemas and hastily renamed, un-originally as befits the whole film, Quarantine it did great business on a budget to takings scale, alas this seems to have prompted original directors of [REC] to hit back with a sequel that picks up merely minutes from the end of the last film, continuing plot strands and showing us what happened to those locked inside the infected building while doing the usual sequel things of upping the ante, introducing multiple plots strands and developing ideas for better or worse.
This time around there are multiple cameras, fitted with lights, rather than the original film’s one, this allows for more scope with occasional split screen and a little more in the way of action which can now be seen from more than one perspective. The plot itself has the bare bones S.W.A.T. group heading into the apartment block to discover what has happened, suffice to say all does not go at all to plan and many people die a nasty death. So far so [REC], but what the writers have cleverly done is open up the original’s simple zombie infection and crafted a mythology around the creepy occurences.
This is not new territory for Horror, building on a mythology is a dangerous thing though and in the wrong hands can go spectacularly wrong giving your evil entities rhyme and reason where there was none for good reason…the scare factor, witness Halloween 2 (Rob Zombies!) or the Saw films for evidence of this. What Balaguero and Plaza have done is take what we thought was scary for its primal viciousness and added a supernatural spin, to say too much si to rob the film of its scares but it is enough to say there is something of an Exorcist vibe going on.
So while the scares are ratcheted up with the S.W.A.T. we are suddenly introduced to a group of teens, seemingly there as extra fodder and sadly dragging the pace a little when it should be at its peak, thankfully a kill involving a rocket and a possession scene save what could have totally killed the tone and we wind up with an ending that is at once as scary as the final 5 minutes of its forebear and at the same time excruciatingly annoying in the desperation to which the film-makers have gone to exude the need to use that infamous night vision camera style. Aside from these minor mis-steps and something in a lack of characterisation this is as snappy and scary as the first and leaves you looking forward to, rather than dreading, another installment.
[REC]2 offers a satisfying sequel, something that is a rare beast in the Horror genre, as scary and snappy as the first whilst introducing a satisfying mmythology to be built upon, not a classic but in a world of remakes soemthing fresh is in itself to be commended.