Wednesday, 15 August 2012

15/07/2012: [REC] ² [2009]

I finally watched [REC] just the other night, and I was of course cautious of the sequel. Quarantine’s sequel had been a huge flop, as many horror sequels have a tendency to do.  [REC]2 however is how a sequel should be made, keeping the ideas that made the first one great and elaborating on some of it’s mysteries. While I can understand that some people might not have liked the new concepts and explanations introduced in this sequel, I for one can’t wait for [REC] 3: Genesis.

Now, I didn’t give [REC] a full formal review, but I did enjoy it a lot, I was just unfortunately hampered by the fact that I’d already seen Hollywood’s version Quarantine, which was nearly a shot for shot remake. However, Hollywood shows that when you’re first movie just ripped off someone else’s ideas, you really have no chance at making a decent sequel. But with [REC] 2 firmly in the hands of the same director and writer things can only keep getting better. The sequel knows exactly where it is going, unlike Quarantine, who jumped to a new location, [REC]2 goes right back into the fire, and wastes bare minutes before we are back at the scene of the first’s great ending. Of course that is the way to go. You don’t scrap everything you built and just reintroduce the same concept in, let’s say an airport terminal. You charge right back into that apartment building and try to explain what the hell just happened.

Now, one of the biggest things going for [REC] was it’s found footage / handheld camera gimmick. It is a great tool for building fear and mystery and keeps things shrouded in darkness for the viewer. However, one thing those types of movies are not suited for are sequels. While [REC] managed to be refreshing in its approach of an already overused concept, [REC]2 was bound to take it to a tiring level. While there are some attempts to spice things up, with one main camera able to patch into a number of smaller helmet cameras, the excuse of “record everything” is kind of forced and isn’t as natural as the first one. However, when you’ve started with it, you can’t really just drop it. [REC]2 does manage to keep things mildly fresh in this regard by introducing more than one camera, and I would say it worked out in the end.

The battery died just as the dance party started.
So, with the originality of the camera style having worn off, the sequel needs to start giving us some explanations. You can’t go two movies only feeding us mysteries and leaving us with questions, answers are needed and answers are what [REC]2 gives. Now, I think that it is likely the answers given could easily turn some people off. I’m not sure how well the sequel was received, but when you jump from infectious zombielike plague to a concept as abstract as a communicable demonic possession you could lose people. While the later had been very vaguely hinted at in the first, I think most people took the movie to be a more scientific problem than a religious one. Instead however, [REC]2 goes all The Exorcist on that apartment's ass, including demonic children who crawl on ceilings. While that may be a generally overused concept as well, [REC]2 manages to freshen it up, by turning it’s demonic possession into an infection, allowing the possession of multiple hosts. I think that was pretty cool, even if are priest wasn’t exactly much help.

Seeing as we had left everyone in the original for dead, who would dare enter that hell hole of an apartment building again? Well, maybe an hour or so after the first one wraps up, a SWAT team is assembled and sent in under the command of a "medical official". Armed with one man working the main camera, and a helmet camera on everyone else, they are under strict orders to record everything, but for whom? While small clues and puzzle pieces start to trickle in almost immediately, it takes a little time to reveal our medical official as a priest and that it is the Vatican who has their hand in all this. Things kinda get all Exorcist pretty quickly. I used that one already didn't I? Well then, they get all The Last Exorcism. That being said, no one other than the priest is really keen on performing any exorcisms, and unlike the first there is plenty of ammo to go around. 

I hate to get technical, but where did all that dust come from in like 1 hour?
I won’t ruin the rest of the plot, as there are some rather creative twists, but I will say, if you liked the scientific aspect of the first, (okay, there wasn’t a lot), [REC]2 is a lot more supernatural than the first, and I’d say that keeps things interesting. As for the other aspects of the movie, there isn’t much different from the first. We are set in the same apartment complex, and we get to see some familiar faces, although they might not be happy to see anyone. The blood and gore keeps on flying, but so do the answers, with enough mystery still left for a third. 

In case you were wondering, the movie still is a Spanish production, and other than a few faces from the first, we get a lot of unknown actors. I must say, I really didn’t feel anywhere near as attached to any of the new characters as I did with the first one, but the writer realized this and made sure we got the person who’s life we really rooted for. Then again, he gave us another twist there eh? This is for the best however, because things just aren’t as real when Nicholas Cage or Tom Cruise’s face shows up. But then again, [REC]2 kinda threw out any attachment to reality with its new ideas. They did however keep the awesome music tracks for the credits, which I liked. 

So, what was that in the left corner? Sound, ESP, fun level?
 [REC]2 I would say is a great example of how a sequel should be made. I would say it is easily on par with the first one, showing strengths in others places when the originals strengths weren’t there or were getting old. I really hope the they can pull off [REC]3: Genesis, but seeing as there is no stupid Hollywood studio looming over them, I think they can pull it off. The trailer was just released and I’m going to check it out later. Overall I’d say the [REC] series is just another example of why I always check out Hollywood remakes source material, and I’m only sorry I didn’t check [REC] out earlier. While Quarantine might have been a decent remake, if lacking in any and all original ideas and Paco Plaza shows with his sequel that [REC] is his creation, and he knows where it is going.

P.S. I watched the trailer for the 3rd. Jumps to a different incident, but there is promise of a 4th to sum everything up.


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