Monday, 18 October 2010

Review: Rec 2

Year: 2009 (UK Release 2010)
Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Screenplay: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza, Manu Díez
Starring: Jonathan Mellor, Óscar Zafra, Alejandro Casaseca, Ariel Casas

Synopsis is here

Other reviews have said it more eloquently so I'll also jump on the bandwagon in saying that Rec 2 is the Aliens to Rec Alien. Like James Cameron's arguably superior (to some) sequel. This film concentrates on bulking up the action and expending the universe. Not a terrible thing in a world where sequels usually try and mimic the original and add nothing new (See also certain remakes). The issue with this in Rec 2 however is,  you suddenly realise that less is more. By the time the film springs it's big surprise, you won't be bitching to Toto about Kansas. In fact, screw Oz for that matter, as Rec 2 goes into a brave new world of bonkers. Some of it's inventive, a lot of it is visceral but nothing compares to how bloody barmy the whole thing is.

As I said before in my review for Survival of the dead. The zombie sub-genre doesn't need to look to Romero for interesting commentary anymore. Rec's combination of hand-held immediacy, quarantined setting and vague religious codec was a heady blend which ended on a perfect note. It also remembered that less is more, especially when it comes to found footage. Even Cloverfield knew it had to hide it's monster for as long as possible.

Rec 2 feels that it needs to fill the gaps by utilizing many, many references to various other horror flicks and some awkward (read: silly) plot moments. As it explains what the virus is and what these new characters have to do in order to survive/cure the virus. The thing is, Rec had our imagination do the hard work and the fun was in not knowing. Rec 2's quasi-exorcist shenanigans and cornball plot twists do their best to show how deep the rabbit hole goes, however, not only do they take away some of the mood (the last third becomes very jarring) but they also help expose the fact that the screenwriters had to create an uber twist to justify the films very existence. Added to this a much weaker cast (with no character development in sight) and once again you have a lesser horror sequel.

There are good points however. The films first third brings back some of the claustrophobic tension that made the first film so memorable. The films setting is still brilliantly handled at times and the use of lighting and sound really brings together that "bump in the night" feeling. There is also one or two well executed jump scares and action set pieces that help capture that familiar kinetic energy.

Rec 2's wish to expand the situation really plays havoc with what made the original what it was. One must remember that, while the first film isn't an in-depth character study, but it did have people we wanted to watch. This added to the tension that the setting and situation brought. The insistence of adding more to the films streamlined narrative really screws with the chi. With Rec 3 and 4 on the way there's a good chance that this franchise will be running on fumes very soon.