[REC] 2 (2009)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Connections: [REC]

Four HAZMAT-outfitted SWAT agents with recording equipment enter the Barcelona apartment building that was sealed off in REC, flanking a shifty Ministry of Health officer who seems to know more than he says. Only after things take an unexpected turn for the worse inside does he reveal the shocking truth of their operation. Since he's the one in charge, no one leaves until he says so; with little other choice, the dwindling assault team do their best to help him, unable to comprehend what is happening around them. --IMDb
Jonathan D. Mellor
Jonathan D. Mellor
Óscar Zafra
Óscar Zafra
Ariel Casas
Ariel Casas
Alejandro Casaseca
Alejandro Casaseca
Pablo Rosso
Pablo Rosso
Review by Chad
Added: July 16, 2011
[REC] was, in my opinion, one of the best horror films of the decade. It mixed together a lot of things that had already been done before, what with the zombies and the "found footage" angle, but it all worked out so perfectly that I couldn't help but love every minute of it. It was scary, it was tense, it had great acting, and it had one of the best final scenes that I have witnessed in years. The American remake, if taken as a standalone film, wasn't bad. It kept the same elements that made the original so good and it was competently shot, but it was just completely unnecessary as it was a shot-by-shot remake with the same scenes, the same dialogue, and the same ending. Still, I wanted to see more of this universe, and today, my wish has been granted with [REC] 2.

Note: there will be minor spoilers in this review. I can't discuss the movie without talking about some of the big plot revelations that occur about halfway through the running time, so proceed as you will.

The story picks up moments before the ending of the first film; as the final scenes are taking place in that timeline, a team of highly-trained SWAT members - Jefe (Óscar Zafra), Larra (Ariel Casas), Martos (Alejandro Casaseca), and Rosso (Pablo Rosso) - are en route to the quarantined building to assist in an escort mission. Their mission, as it turns out, is to escort one Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor) into the building, protect him, and document everything that happens along the way with their cameras. The footage that they "captured" is what you will see in this film. If you've seen either of the previous movies set in this universe, you know what is going on in there - if not, for shame. Basically, there is a highly-infectious disease that will turn humans into rabid savages in a matter of minutes, and almost everybody inside that building has caught it.

We soon discover that there is more to this "infectious disease" than originally anticipated. You see, there was a little girl who was possessed by demons, and she is the one who transferred the "disease" (read: demonic possession) to somebody, who in turn transferred it to someone else, who in turn... well, it spread pretty damned fast. Dr. Owen has been sent by the Vatican to get a sample of the original host's blood so that they can create an antidote before the infection spreads beyond this apartment complex, but it won't be easy: that demon-infested girl doesn't want to be found, and our heroes will have to deal with a horde of zombie demons along the way.

So, yes, the movie takes a radical shift from "zombies" to "demons" in this release, and had you told me that before I watched the movie, I would have rolled my eyes. Yes, I know, it sounds stupid, but you know what? It worked. There is nothing in here that invalidates anything found in the original film, and nothing from the first film is ignored to fit in with this new discovery. It simply gives a deeper meaning to the events that are taking place while allowing new storyline arcs to pop up. I don't want to say a whole lot about what happens later in the film, but I just want to drive this one point home: don't pass on this because of how it sounds. Trust me, fans of the original will enjoy this one too.

Now, just because the "zombies" have been revealed to actually be humans possessed by demons, don't think that the film shifts away from "zombies tearing people to shreds" to "demons spitting pea-soup everywhere." They are still vicious creatures with animalistic behaviors, and yes, they will still tear a normal human to pieces in a matter of seconds. There is still tons of gore on display, and there are still packs of these baddies to be found. We have just been given a new explanation for why they are the way that they are. Again, don't read those "demons" and "possession" statements and think that this is just another cash-in on the recent rash of religious horror flicks. It's not, and given the way that the two movies tie together, I would certainly believe that it was planned this way from the beginning.

What I enjoyed most about this sequel is the fact that it keeps the same atmosphere as the first film: we are given a handful of humans who are trapped in a claustrophobic environment with a mob of villains who are able and willing to tear them to pieces. In other words, the people we follow are in deep shit from the moment that they step through the door. It is all done in the cinéma vérité style of filmmaking, which is a hit-or-miss with various audiences, but personally, I enjoyed it. It is done effectively so as to draw the viewer into this universe, and later in the film, it is actually used as a plot device. I won't say how, but it is definitely neat.

In fact, there's really only one negative thing that I can say about the movie. Around the midway point, our heroes discover a couple of uninfected kids hiding in the building. How did they get in, and what are they doing here? Instead of a brief introduction, we are treated to the unfolding of their story (again, told through their cameras) as they went from innocent bystanders on the street to trapped inside and fighting for their lives. This flashback is too long, it doesn't really add much to the overall film, we never connect with the characters, and even though it does bring a few neat scenes to the movie, the overall stretch of film is just unnecessary.

Still, that is a minor gripe in an otherwise excellent film. I loved this sequel and I am eagerly awaiting the next entry in the series, and I believe that fans of the original film will feel the same way. Even if you've only seen the American remake, you should still pick this one up - again, that remake was identical to the original in just about every way, so they would still tie together neatly. 9/10.
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