Just when you thought horror was contained, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza return with [Rec] 2, which continues moments after the last one ended. [Rec] 2 is an entertaining and somewhat scary monster flick that suffers simply from the fact that it's retreading material seen in the previous movie - and the American remake Quarantine.
[Rec] and Quarantine - I use the two interchangeably because they're essentially the same movie - were two of the scariest movies released in recent years. The movies took full advantage of the "hidden footage" fad. The creatures were seriously nasty and the setting provided a dark, claustrophobic atmosphere for them to scare the crap out of the characters. Oh, and me.
[Rec] 2 is much the same, though it plays out much like Aliens; the movie takes place in the same location, but focuses on a SWAT team that is searching for the source of the outbreak. The protagonists are better prepared, armed and ready for action. The movie isn't directed by James Cameron, however.
As far as horror movies go, [Rec] 2 is a redeemable sequel. It has enough scary monsters, demonic forces and creepy child zombies crawling on ceilings to satisfy any horror fan. Its biggest setback, however, is that it's just like the first one, only the element of surprise has vanished. You know exactly what's coming. It even ends in the exact same room, with the exact same creature, as before.
The movie also lacks identifiable character. Whereas in the first movie there was a clear-cut protagonist as well as several supporting characters we cared for, [Rec] 2 doesn't have a single interesting character. The cops all look the same and the priest isn't well developed.
The narrative also isn't as cohesive. [Rec] 2 starts well enough, but halfway through it oddly switches to the perspective of three annoying teenagers who decide to sneak into the quarantine zone. The change is abrupt and off putting; the movie never fully recovers. I also wanted the teenagers to die immediately.
Despite all its shortcomings, [Rec] 2 manages to come close to attaining the same level of creepiness and suspense of the origin. It is far from perfect, but among all the forgettable, cheesy horror sequels available, [Rec] 2 still delivers on its core promise: to scare the audience.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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