It’s easy to get lazy when making a sequel to a successful film. In some cases lazy may be the wrong word but in general the term “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes into play, especially with millions of potential dollars on the line. Studios are less inclined to take chances and risk alienating the reason the original worked so well. The problem then is that a great many sequels become weaker rehashes of their predecessors and pale in comparison. [Rec] 2 is the perfect balance of both, as it still uses the same shaky-cam technique that helped make the first film so intense and popular, and yet, it also chooses to take the story in an entirely new, much more action-packed direction.
Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, who co-wrote and co-directed both [Rec] 2 and the original, explain in the special features that they were heavily influenced by the films Alien and Aliens, and how one focused more on horror while the other centered more around action. The influence does not go unnoticed as that’s the exact comparison I thought of myself while watching [Rec] 2. While the scares and claustrophobic moments still exist, [Rec] 2 is a much more action-oriented film than the original. This is obvious right from the opening moments when we’re introduced to an elite Special Operations Unit (SOU) who are heavily armed, and extremely well equipped. A far cry from the first film where those who entered the contaminated building had very few weapons, and no idea what they were getting into.
The sequel begins right where [Rec] left off. The SOU arrive at the quarantined building and are tasked with escorting Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor), a medical officer, into the apartment so he can get a sample of the virus in order to make a vaccine. The group heads inside and the doors are sealed behind them once again. Weary of the contagious virus around him, the SOU team leader carefully sidesteps a pool of blood found in the lobby of the apartment (those who saw the original will know how it got there) and warns his men to do the same. Dr. Owen tells them not to worry and that the virus, while highly contagious, can only be transferred through bodily fluids.
Quickly proving that the film doesn’t want to tread the same waters as the original, the crew head directly to the penthouse suite where the climax of the first film took place. As one would expect, things don’t go according to plan and the group soon come face to face with the infected from the first film. Completely caught off guard by the attack the SOU want to cut their losses and leave; however, Dr. Owens is a man on a mission and he won’t vacate the premises until he’s done what he needs to do. With Owens being the only one who can get the group out via voice command, the SOU have little choice but to help the doctor complete his mission while trying to survive at the same time.
[Rec] 2 is a very effective film with some fun storytelling to be had. One place this film does fail where the original excelled is in building characters. The first film had reporter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) as the one that audiences rooted for and wanted to see escape the hell she’d become trapped in. No such person exists in [Rec] 2, as the characters are simply interchangeable fodder and are just there to give multiple perspectives on the action. While one of the SOU guys is the permanent cameraman (and our main perspective throughout,) each of the other SOU members have cameras built into their helmets which allow us a picture-in-picture view from time to time when the group is split up. This works quite well, and the creative influence shines through once again as this is reminiscent of the Space Marines in Aliens.
The camera work is great, getting right into your face with the scares and action. While there are always those moments where you wonder how someone is just standing there filming as an infected person charges right at them, it’s obviously one of those things you need to push aside or else you’ll take yourself out of some of the more intense moments in the movie.
Acting is important in a film like this, where the viewer needs to be teleported to a place where this footage they’re viewing can actually be seen as real. Much like its predecessor, [Rec] 2 is filled with top notch actors that emit the feeling that nobody is safe. This helps take the film to the level it needs to be at in order to succeed.
[Rec] 2 is an adrenaline shot to the nerves and a fantastic follow-up to the original. Not everyone will like the turn the story takes, as part of the intensity of the original was not knowing all the answers. Though I commend the creators for taking the path they chose and feel that in doing so they’ve added a thrilling chapter to this will-be franchise (a prequel and another sequel are already in the works) when they could have just as easily taken the sequel road more traveled and gone for a quick cash grab in lieu of creativity.
The film is presented in 1080p 16.9 1.85 HD, and it looks fantastic. For a film that thrives off of darkness and the unknown within it, there are no moments where the picture looks muddy or overly dark. With the little light there is to work with, the colours and picture is sharp as one could want. A great transfer all around. The audio, presented in Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio comes through extremely clear. The subtitles are easy to read and never take you out of the moment.
I’m not sure fans of the series could ask for more as far as special features are concerned. There are two extremely lengthy, highly detailed features on the film that are more than one would expect.
Making Of: In An Infected World is a making-of documentary that clocks in at just under two hours. That’s right, this feature is almost double the runtime of the film itself. It’s an extremely detailed account of how the sequel came to be, and pretty much a step-by-step walkthrough of the entire film and how it was put together. One complaint I have is that this isn’t broken up into categories. It’s a minor complaint, but it’d be an easy fix, and allow for viewers to pick and choose what they want to hear about, or in what order.
The Behind-the-Scenes feature covers three different scenes at great length, and goes into just as much detail as the first feature did. At first it seems as though this could be viewed as deleted scenes from the Making Of feature; however, this does go into a lot more detail surrounding the special effects and these three scenes in particular.
The Extended/Deleted Scenes included aren’t really of any interest. The extended scene is all but pointless, adding only a few unimportant seconds onto a scene that definitely didn’t need them. Nothing important here and they really could’ve just left them off instead of throwing them on for extras filler, especially with how much they added in above.
[Rec] 2 is a film that horror sequels can learn from. While it sometimes pays to play it safe, it’s always refreshing when a sequel almost takes on a life of its own and becomes memorable based on its own merits. [Rec] 2 plays off the strengths of the original and adds a few surprises of its own along the way. It’s an intense, action-packed thrill ride that fans of the first film definitely shouldn’t miss.
Filmax Entertainment presents [Rec] 2. Written and Directed by: Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza. Starring: Jonathan Mellor, Alejandro Casaseca, Ferran Terraza, Pablo Rosso. Running time: 75 minutes. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray: July 12, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: horror, Quarantine, Rec, Thriller, zombies