Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
Starring Jonathan Mellor, Manuela Velasco, Óscar Zafra, Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca
Distributed by E1 Entertainment
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of witnessing directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s intense Spanish-language original [REC], then firstly: Shame on you. Second, you’ll need to if you want to have any kind of understanding of just what the hell is going on in this pulse-pounding sequel.
Picking up right where the first film left off, we head back into the apartment-building-turned-charnel-house in the company of a squad of Spanish SWAT agents alongside Dr. Owen, a Vatican scientist charged with obtaining the blood of the horrific Medeiros girl – the originator of the infection now rampant inside. Once they enter, it isn’t long at all before the proverbial shit hits the fan and bullets start flying. Midway through we are also introduced to a group of kids who sneak their way into the building to film whatever commotion is going on inside, followed by a fireman who notices them enter. Trapped inside by the authorities, the two groups collide amidst a shrieking horde of infected residents; and with Dr. Owen revealing that they will only be allowed out by radio recognition of his voice, just who will make it in the end?
The visual style of [REC] 2 is indistinguishable from the first film so those who easily suffer motion sickness won’t find it any easier than its predecessor to sit through. This time we’re also treated to plenty of absorbing helmet-cam footage from the SWAT team. Part FPS video game, and in places highly reminiscent of the old Space Hulk PC game, it makes for an outstanding level of immersion. When an infected comes barreling towards you or you watch a rifle rip one to shreds in a first-person perspective, the thrills and frights are guaranteed. [REC] 2 takes that rollercoaster/haunted-house carnival ride feel of the original and ramps it up with a larger dose of adrenaline.
One point for which Balagueró and Plaza deserve a ton of praise is their handling of the demonic possession slant hinted upon in the first movie. Almost like a two-fingered salute to Quarantine‘s “mutant strain of rabies”, the two directors go absolutely balls out with possession. Yep, this is no standard virus – the Medeiros girl is a full-fledged demonic entity, capable of speaking through the others infected with her evil and, in an exceptionally cool setpiece and ingenious method of getting a night-vision view into the film, using darkness to twist reality.
It’s also great to see some of the original players return, both infected and uninfected (or should I say possessed and not possessed?), for example a now hideously feral Manu (Ferran Terraza) and even the return of the original’s Ángela Vidal (Velasco), who appears to have escaped the clutches of the monstrous Medeiros after the finale of [REC]. Kudos again to the directors for pulling no punches when it comes to the gore, deaths, shocks and an uncompromising ending that promises big things for the upcoming [REC] 3.
An almost non-stop barrage of gore, thrills and heart-racing setpieces, both [REC] and [REC] 2, played back to back, form a wonderfully seamless classic of modern terror. The only problem with the film comes around the midpoint with the introduction of the teenagers who sneak into the building: Going from heightened scenes of utter chaos and decimation amongst the SWAT crew straight into the slower character development of the teens as they make their way in knocks the pacing flat on its ass for roughly 10 minutes. It’s not a major issue, but noticeably jarring. Though once things pick back up again, you’ll likely be too busy having the time of your life to care.
Special features on E1 Entertainment’s DVD release of [REC] 2 include a few minutes of extended and deleted scenes. Nothing spectacular to be discovered there, but worth a watch nonetheless – particularly for some wisely excised overacting and the worst fake reporter seen on-screen in ages.
4 1/2 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5
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