Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

[Rec] 2

Review by Louis Plamondon

I was one of the lucky individuals to attend one of the advanced screenings of the sequel to the 2007 monster hit [REC] at the Toronto International Film Festival and it is safe to say that not a single soul in the theater walked out with a grin of disappointment. Perhaps you have seen [REC] through a referral or sat through Sony’s remake Quarantine – a movie that managed to capture some of [REC]’s ingenuity but sadly none of its credibility. Either way, you will need to be aware of many details from these first outings in order to enjoy the sequel, including who the building’s residents were and what happened to them. In short, [REC] 2 plays out like a colossal indulgence for those of us who genuinely hoped to dig deeper into the dark rooms of that ill-fated Barcelona apartment block.
   
It was no surprise for me to learn that co-directors Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza hold Master’s degrees from reputable European Universities, because both have proved to be intelligent enough not to fall into the traps that normally kill sequels. First of all, [REC] 2 is not “everything you loved about the original but ten times more!” which is a trap that your typical giant-robot Hollywood director will fall for. The secret to a good sequel is not to ramp up its elements of success until your audience gets a brain tumor, but to tell a completely different story within the universe you’ve created. Luckily, [REC] 2 offers the same balance of scares, laughs, tension, and character development as the first one.
 
Each of the protagonists making their way into the quarantined building – the ones who survive past the first 10 minutes - bring personal struggles that make the film enjoyable and takes it beyond a Spanish “tomatina” of blood-spilling. You can tell that Balagueró and Plaza would have refused to make this sequel unless there was a good story to be told, and they must have brainstormed non-stop until they came up with fresh new ideas that were both believable and hard to predict.
 
The only mishap of [REC] 2 is that one central character displays such an unshakeable level of confidence that having him around as a tour guide strongly diminishes how scary the film is. Think of any movies that you find horrifying, and I can assure you whoever played the victim must have been somewhat horrified in order to make it work. That being said, I wouldn’t want to diminish the usefulness of that character because his courage directs the film towards the creepiest parts of the apartments – ones you might remember and others you have yet to discover!
 
I would highly recommend [REC] 2 to anyone who has seen and enjoyed either [REC] or Quarantine. It is the fine work of two young directors at the top of their game who still know what strings they have to pull in order to punish our morbid sense of curiosity that makes us all horror fans.

4 / 5 stars

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