[REC] 2 (2009)

[REC] made enough money in Europe to get attention elsewhere, most notably with a U.S. remake called Quarantine.  Unlike many early found footage films Quarantine was full-on a cash grab.  Hollywood realized that Jaume Belagueró and Paco Plaza made a nice wad of cash for themselves and, since the formula was already tested and worked, figured that a remake would do the same.  Since [REC] at that point had not been released in the United States they were right.

It wasn't just Hollywood seeing dollar signs - or, in this case, euro signs - in their eyes.  Belagueró and Plaza joined forces once again to make a sequel.  One of my few problems with the original is that it started to go through lengths to explain things at the end, when early on they explain that Jennifer's dog Max had been taken to the vet and, though thought dead, woke up and began attacking other animals.  I figured that was all we really needed to know about the origin of the virus, as it is what led to the apartment building being sealed off.  At the end, Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman Pablo (Pablo Rosso) discover a sealed-off penthouse that contains a lab where a priest was doing experiments on a possessed Portuguese girl, and that happens to be the source of the infection.  I considered that to be too much heavy explaining when the original origin story was fine.  It did, however, lead to a tense ending where we see Angela being dragged away into the darkness.

[REC] 2 begins 15 minutes after the ending of [REC], with a SWAT team entering the building under guidance of Dr. Owen (Jonathan D. Mellor), a supposed representative of the health services.  His goal is to get to the penthouse and get the blood sample taken from the girl for further study, as it appears the virus is not just a normal contagion but also carries the seeds of demonic possession.  Due to a number of mistakes that are made Owen and the team find themselves trapped inside the building with a group of teenagers that snuck in, as well as Angela, who appears to have survived her attack from the first film.

It is a creative direction to take, combining the idea of traditional zombie films with possession movies, and while this sequel does have some problems it still maintains the tension of the first film.  A few times the possessed come out when expected - particularly when things get quiet - but in many cases nothing immediate happens.  This time around we have footage from one of the SWAT team members, the kids who get in the building and many of the mounted cameras on the helmets, often giving the battles with the building's former tenants the feel a first-person shooter.  

My problem is, in the first movie, everyone was in the dark about what was going on and made decisions based on emotion and survival.  This time Dr. Owen knows full well what is happening and, though he blames it on members of the SWAT team, makes many stupid decisions that ultimately lead to their situation.  I don't know if this was on purpose, but he is set up as an expert from the get-go, and seems to have little to no idea how to handle the situation.  I think that it may have been purposeful in some way, but it's still a clumsy way to get the plot moving. 

Move it does, and right from the beginning, since it's already known what these guys are headed into.  In some ways the sequel gets a bit more creative on its ways of getting rid of zombies - and makes it clear that the head must be destroyed, although it seems like everyone aims for everything but - and those ways included everything from sharp objects to fireworks.  The truly interesting departure, though, is the further exploration of the possession side as well as some biblical minutiae that makes for quite an interesting finale.  

[REC] 2 is more action-oriented, but that should be expected since largely everything was set up in the first film.  It is still quite satisfying as a horror film as well and, as a franchise, promises to go in some interesting directions.  Then again one of the directors could decide they want to make a romantic horror comedy out of the third movie and completely ruin everything that has been built up in the first two.  

[REC] 2 (2009)
Time: 85 minutes
Starring: Jonathan D. Mellor, Manuela Velasco, Óscar Zafra
Directors: Jaume Belagueró, Paco Plaza



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