[REC] 2 (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus ventures back to the penthouse suite to find some answers.
Kicking off where the original [REC] finished this Spanish horror sequel takes us back inside the infected apartment block, but this time we have an armed team escorting an official from the ministry of health. They are going in to find out what’s happened in the quarantined area, only Dr Owen (Jonathan Mellor)—the man from the ministry of health—isn’t what he seems and when he reveals he’s not in there to study the health risks, but has actually been sent by the church because of the religious/demonic nature of the infection, this sequel begins to get messy.
For the record I loved the original [REC]. It was one of those few movies where the hand held cam technique worked wonders for its mood and despite the tried and tested zombie/infected shenanigans it still managed to feel fresh and more importantly scary. For me, the original really came to life in the closing scenes with the reveal of the religious elements in the oh so scary penthouse (totally avoided in the US remake Quarantine by the way) with its tape recordings and newspaper cuttings and of course the creepy as all hell Medeiros girl wandering around in the night vision. So having the sequel barely missing a second and jumping straight into the action with our new team/victims heading straight up to the penthouse was exactly what I was after.
As many have said [REC] 2 to [REC] very much feels like what Aliens is to Alien. We know the threat, we know the lay of the land, and even though we should feel safe with the armed up team and the knowledge of what’s out there, it soon goes to shit when the odds are ramped up. Well [REC] 2 doesn’t muck about; before you know it we’re back in the penthouse, and even more so we are going to go back in the loft space where the uber jump from the first movie occurred. You know what I’m talking about, the “what the fuck is a weird looking little boy doing in there???!!!” jump.
The movie throws the missing details at you at an alarming rate, the infected are as effective as ever, and while the hand held camera technique feels a little more forced in the sequel (especially with the teens that enter the building) it’s still used well enough not to ruin the desired effect of having us watch the events unfold in the apartment block that’s full of surprises.
Really I can’t go into much more as this sequel is full of surprises, answers to the original movies mysteries and its fair share of “what the fuck?” moments (though none as shocking as the falling fireman in the original—man that made me jump!) and of course its own fair share of plot twists. With that said, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel, I loved where the story went, I loved the use of the religious elements and more importantly I’m very prepared for where [REC] 3 might go. Though the cynic in me predicts it won’t go outside of the apartment buildings walls and we’re in for another round of “let’s go and see what’s in that penthouse” again. We'll see I guess.
From the get go the black levels are solid and the image is generally clean and digitally crisp. In all honesty the lo-fi nature of the project makes the [REC] movies look a lot like a high end TV drama/thriller with it realistic lighting, lived in set and limited camera angles as opposed to all out big budget horror-fest but this is why we love it, right?
To keep the camcorder feel alive there is of course a fair amount of grain, mostly in close ups, but generally the image provides some good colours when it needs to (especially when we’re introduced to the teenagers on the roof) and with the bright stark light of the nearby helicopter popping up now and again means everything looks quite detailed and natural against the dark backdrop.
Really [REC] 2 is a hard one to judge. As a plus point the image looks like a good high end HD camcorder image as is the intention, but compare it to a run of the mill movie and you’ll begin to see the failings. It’s a shame I didn’t get the Blu-ray to review, as I would be quite interested to see how much of a difference the HD presentation might make.
The Dolby Digital track is quite effectively used with the cameraman’s vocals sitting in the rear speakers as he films and everything else sitting in the front speakers to add to the effect. Honestly it’s a little distracting and a little too showy in the opening scenes and with the team preparing to go in. The odd comment from the unseen cameraman feels unconnected to the group's conversation and really I found it a little forced to sell the set-up of a technique that’s become quite common anyway.
Thankfully that doesn’t last too long and once we’re in the apartment block silence is used to full effect. As with the first movie the simple use of dialogue, the shuffling of feet and the calamity outside give you a real sense of tension and is much akin to a computer game experience where we follow the other characters around and wait for the eventual chaos to begin.
When everything does kick off it’s generally in short sharp bursts—loud screeches, yells, ominous creaks and bangs and even a bit of bass heavy gunfire. In its design it’s there to put the fear of the moment front and centre and [REC] 2’s mix manages to be very effective with its intentions especially in a darkened room.
The disc boots up with trailers for The Tortured (which is a contender for the hokiest trailer ever), the first [REC], 7 Days and Unthinkable (a movie with a great cast yet it still looks all kinds of stoopid!).
Beyond that there’s only three and a half minutes of extended scenes and just under four minutes of deleted scenes, so features-wise this release is a real let-down.
The return to Spain’s creepiest apartment block proved to be everything I wanted from a sequel to [REC]. We get answers, we get the threat ramped up, and we get a blossoming horror franchise that I’m actually quite excited about. [REC] 2 takes the closing events of [REC] and runs with it and while it's not quite as sharp as the original it still does more than enough to drive the story forward, offering a great tease at the potential for the third and recently announced fourth instalment.
The disc really lets itself down in regards to features, but with a good A/V presentation that's used effectively for scares the movie itself gets a much better treatment.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 20th September 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, Dolby Stereo 2.0 Spanish
Extras: Deleted and Extended Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Cast: Óscar Zafra, Jonathan Mellor, Manuela Velasco
Length: 80 minutes
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