Yeah. a horror review on Halloween. It just feels right to watch scary films around Halloween, even if you’re a bit of a horror fugitive like me. I get caught up in the tradition of it all. It’s the same reason I always seek out The Nightmare Before Christmas in late December and watch The Pancake That Saved The Entire Fucking World on Shrove Tuesday.
To date, the original [Rec] is one of the only films that properly chilled me. Its combination of claustrophobic settings, tense atmosphere and effective scares marked it out from the rest of the rabble that make up the oversubscribed horror genre. Since 2007, things have changed. [Rec] was given the standard Hollywood remake treatment in the form of the very similar, but not as good Quarantine. In 2010, we’re now staring down the barrel of a fully-fledged [Rec] franchise, with [Rec] 2 being the second in a proposed set of 4 films. There’s a lot to fuck up between now and then, but if [Rec] 2 is anything to go by, we could have a semi-decent horror franchise going here.
[Rec] 2 follows a growing tradition of sequels that start mere minutes after the previous film ended. This time, we follow Dr.Owen (Jonathan Mellor) and a three-man SWAT team around the quarantined building, searching for the antidote to the outbreak. The story is actually pretty decent, retaining the oppressive suffocating feeling that made the first film work. I wasn’t impressed when the SWAT team went into the building armed with the type of firepower that could rip a buffalo in half, but to the film’s credit, it ups the ante and action whilst retaining some sense of danger and/or fear. The film veers dangerously close to turning into just another guns ‘n zoms flick at times, but never quite tips the balance. I actually found the teenagers’ thread to be more fear-inducing than that of the tooled-up professional hardmen. Having said that, for professionals, they were about as effective as the scared, unarmed teens against the infected. I think it’s because of this that I sided with the kids over the inept guffmonkeys that were the Spanish SWAT.
So, is it scary? Well, it definitely has its moments, but inevitably things aren’t as fresh as in [Rec]. The infected have lost their lustre a bit and so [Rec] 2 tries to change things up a bit with all manner of abominations unto the Lord’s name. It’s progression, but in the most conventional way possible- something which I would have thought way beneath the makers of the original. It’s disappointing to see the wheels fall off [Rec]‘s sense of realism. It’s interesting to note that there are less of the short, sharp shocks that there were in [Rec]. [Rec] 2 has more of a prolonged horror and gross-out kinda vibe to it, which is more hit-and-miss than the almost unbearable tension ratcheting of the first. It’s hard to imagine the (admittedly funny, but slightly out of place) firework bit in the original, for one. The film also borrows heavily from The Exorcist to a distracting degree. I mean, if you’re going to go for a possession-tinged story, for fuck’s sake don’t rip off the mack daddy of all crucifix’em ups. You’re only going to look inferior by comparison.
However, despite these problems [Rec] 2 is an entertaining film. I’d say it’s a worthy sequel, but only just. The cracks are starting to show and the concept is starting to smell a bit, but the ending gave me hope that this will be resolved in the third ‘un.