Posts Tagged ‘REC 2’

Review: REC 2

June 2, 2010

I really wanted to like this one…

Being a huge fan of the original movie, I strided into REC 2 with my head and expectations held high – only to shuffle out with my head slumped low and feeling more soulless than the zombies of the picture.

Such a shame, because the first REC movie did something truly special. It managed to not only use the already tired shaky-cam gimmick to great effect, but also made the  equally tired zombie genre frightening again!

REC`s expertly staged set pieces and pure ferocious energy grabbed you by the balls so hard that it actually tore them off and then ate them in front of you. Truly intense, creatively shot and filled with images and moments that chilled me to the bone.

A modern horror masterpiece some might say. 

The sequel? …meh… not so much.  

Some sequels have the annoying habit of diminishing your affection for its predecessor. Unfortunately, this is one of them.

The movie picks up the second the first movie ends. Before I go on, if you havent seen the original, don’t bother reading anymore of this review. Just go out, rent it, buy it – hell, even bloody steal it if you have to. Its great, and makes this movie entirely redundant. Now, if you have seen it (and presumably liked it) continue reading and heed my warning.

Adopting the same fly-on-the-wall directorial style of the first, we are introduced to our (surprisingly) small SWAT team of protagonist’s – lead by a mysterious government official (aren’t they always)- as they prepare to enter the zombie-infested apartment building in which the events of the first movie took place.

The teams naturalistic dialogue and blase attitude to the job at hand helps establish a real world feel to the events we are seeing. This is important because the authenticity and believability of its characters was a key part of the first movies success. I was therefore pleased to see that REC2`s opening moments successfully recapture that tone.

Sadly, as soon as our team steps foot inside the dreaded house of horror, the movies quality drastically diminishes.

There is no point outlining too much of the movies paper-thin plot because even a single sentence could spoil entire sections of the movie. All I will say is that realism (and therefore investment in the fate of our heros) goes completely out of the window, very quickly.

The combination of Rec 2`s ridiculasly stupid plotting, logic defying character decisions and some horribly hammy and OTT performances leave you cringing rather than cowering. From start to finish, not one moment in this film makes any real sense, and at no point do you buy that you are watching real people, reacting in a realistic way. A major problem for a movie like this.

On top of that, REC 2 completely lacks any sense of narrative  focus. It just clumsily stumbles from one moment to the next without any sense of drive or  purpose. Stuff just happens, only ever coming to life during its fleeting moments of action. Not that there is much of that either. It did dawn on me quite quickly that movie was not going to win me over with its lame characters and clunky staging. My only hope was that movie was really going to blow me away with its heart pounding action sequences. Let me tell you now, it didn’t. Never exciting, frequent or coherent – the action fails to deliver.

Sadly, that isn’t even my biggest problem with the film. No that honour goes to the simple fact it just isn’t scary!

One thing I loved about the first REC was its creative and frightening set pieces. Here, we get nothing more than the same shot of a zombie/demon quickly lunging at the camera over and over again. Very disappointing. The movie lacks the creeps and Oh shit were in trouble moments the first one revelled in. There is nothing on show here that wasnt done more effectively in the first.

The only original aspect the sequels throws into the mix is that it whacks the supernatural aspects of its premise up a few thousand notches. The ambiguous nature of the cause of the outbreak is (wisely) only hinted at in the first – here it thrust into your face so hard that it actually gave me a black eye! You see the zombies here aren’t just infected with a virus, they have been infected by evil itself! Que a lot of Exorcist-lite religious mumbo jumbo, bog standard exorcism scenes and an incredibly silly climax involving the magical properties of a infra-red camera. I’m not kidding either – the climax of the movie does involve a mystical infa-red camera!

To be fair, I was more than willing to go with the whole religious angle – but I couldn’t help but feel that the ghost and ghoulies aspects of the sequel clashed with its real-world setting, and ultimately worked against the movie as a whole.

Oh, I forgot to mention that midway through, a new cast of expendable (and down-right irritating) younger characters get awkwardly shoe-horned into mix. Their inclusion adds nothing more to the movie than an extension on its body count, and forcing us to re-tread moments we have already seen. 

If I had to say one good thing about REC2, I would say that I appreciated the work that went into pulling-off almost all of its special effects practically and in-camera. The odd use of CGI doest jar – and if nothing else – the movie does look visually impressive; if not a little too similar to your average first person shooter. Video games have clearly been a strong influence on directors  Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza
visual pallet. So much so that you often find yourself recollecting more effective moments from your computer game library.

To summarise, REC 2 is basically just the first movie with guns – minus the scares, realism and intensity. Never boring, but never engaging – there are far worse ways for zombie fans to get their fix this summer, but a re-watch of the original is certainly be more advisable.

4/10