This past Wednesday night, in New York City, there was a press screening for [REC] 2. Due to having a blog that's built up what I guess is a good reputation over these past two years, I was invited to the event - the first press screening i've ever gotten an invite to. As if being invited to any screening wasn't an honor enough, it was all the more exciting being that it was the screening of the sequel to one of my favorite horror movies in recent years. True, the film has been available On Demand for a couple weeks now, but the opportunity to see it on the big screen was one I probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise and so I am very grateful for that. Situated in one of the most comfortable theatre seats i've been in, without an introduction and with only four or five other members of the press, several of whom had hacking coughs, the lights went out and my very first screening began....
Like most of the better horror sequels do, [REC] 2 picks up right smack dab where we were left off the last time the record button was hit, give or take a few minutes. A SWAT team and a man from the Ministry of the Health head into the hellish apartment building, intent on putting an end to the deadly virus and of course, filming their findings. Naturally, all hell breaks loose once again and the men quickly find themselves battling an unimaginable evil, even more vicious and demonic than they, or we for that matter, anticipated.
Before I get into my thoughts on the flick, can anyone out there settle something for me, once and for all? Is the title of the movie pronounced WRECK or is it spelled out, as in R - E - C? Although everyone has their own way of saying it, nobody i've asked seems to know for sure, and it's been driving me crazy lately. I prefer to spell it out, but i'd love to know how it's intended to be pronounced. Thank you to anyone who can put this one to rest! Now, back to the movie.
The formula for a good sequel, if you're asking me, is a combination of the elements that worked from the first film and new elements that serve to expand the mythology and keep things fresh. [REC] 2 fulfills both of these criteria. There's a lot of the same stuff we saw the first go around, which is fine by me given I totally loved the first film, and there's also a bunch of new elements and ideas thrown into the pot. As the filmmakers mentioned in a little booklet we were given before the movie started, this film was more or less born out of a desire to answer fan questions and speculation regarding [REC], and it does a pretty good job at that, putting to rest most of the things we were all wondering after the end credits rolled on that film. That being said, while I did like some of these new elements, ideas, and explanations, there were also a few I really didn't dig so much, one of which even came off as kind of silly. Unfortunately, to keep this review 100% spoiler free, I really can't go into any more detail in regards to that. Some of it works and some it doesn't and i'll leave it at that. Truth be told, i'd rather new avenues be explored when it comes to sequels, whether they work or not, than nothing new be brought to the table at all, so I really can't complain too much. I will however say that there is a moment of misplaced levity in the film, during the introduction of a few new characters, that only served to kill the tension and take me out of the proceedings. At this point in the events of the franchise, humor should be nowhere in sight.
So is it as scary as the first [REC], which I personally found to be at times quite terrifying? It's hard for me to say, being that I watched this one with a crowd while I watched the first alone in the dark in my room, but ya, it does manage to recapture a bit of the fear factor of the first. Granted things aren't as effective or scary because we've seen it before and know what to expect (in the first one I had NO IDEA whatsoever what to expect), and because the victims are no longer helpess normal folk but instead heavily armed SWAT dudes, but I definetly jumped a few times and quite frankly, nothing could make the Medeiros girl any less nightmare inducing - don't think i'm spoiling anything by saying she's back, and as terrifying as ever.
My only real complaints other than those couple things that I can't really go into are with the cameras themselves. At times there's too many of them going on at once, cutting back and forth, and the filming makes it feel a lot more like a movie than it does an actual event like it did in the first [REC]. Whereas in that one the events were believably being filmed to show the outside world what was going on inside the building by documenting the madness, in this one it almost felt unnecessary for the crew to even be filming and the cutting back and forth from several different helmet mounted cameras (which give it a first person shooter video game feel at times) to a handheld camera made it feel more like you were a spectator, watching the events unfold, rather than feeling like you were in the building experiencing the events for yourself. But again, i'm glad they decided to change things up a bit rather than going down exactly the same road we've already been down.
All in all, despite some plot holes and minor issues I had with it, [REC] 2 is a solid sequel and, much like the film that spawned it, a hell of a gory thrill ride. Inferior to its predecessor, yes, but how often is the opposite the case? If you liked [REC], I can't imagine you not enjoying this one too, and that's some of the highest praise you can give a horror sequel. I've gotta call this one a sequel success story.
As of June 4th of this year, [REC] 2 has been available to download On Demand. It will hit limited theatres July 9th and come to DVD later this year. Thus, you have the opportunity to either see it alone in your own home or with a screaming audience, whichever is more conducive to you being scared shitless. Both are very different experiences, but I personally prefer to watch a scare flick alone in the pitch dark in my room, as it's really the only way I can get scared. If anyone's around, talking or texting on their cell phones, it's just not gonna happen for me. That being said, it is always a lot of fun to watch a horror movie with a packed audience who gets real into it by screaming and hollering. So take your pick!
A couple months back it was announced that there will be two more films in the [REC] franchise, a prequel titled [REC] : Genesis (2011) and a sequel, [REC] : Apocalypse (2012). The two directors who made both [REC] and [REC 2], Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, will go off on their own and each individually direct one of them, with Plaza taking on Genesis and Balaguero helming Apocalypse. Bring it on!