Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza made waves across the pond with the incredibly effective and powerfully scary [REC], a film that made the rounds in certain horror-loving circles before being remade into the accomplished Quarantine. They’ve followed up their inventive shockumentary with a by-the-numbers, incredibly disappointing sequel, [REC] 2, opening in some theaters this weekend and also available On Demand. We all know that the final act of most horror movies is the toughest to pull off. Questions are much scarier than answers. What’s making that sound down the hall or why that door is creaking isn’t as terrifying as the moment we first hear it. Imagine a horror film that’s ALL final act. It may have seemed like a smart idea to pick up exactly where the first [REC] left off but it creates a film that’s merely a shadow of its predecessor in that Balaguero and Plaza are forced to recycle bits to fill out the running time and answer questions that we no longer really care about.
The first [REC] didn’t bother with explanations. A reporter tagged along with an emergency response unit to a call at an apartment building. All Hell broke loose as the residents of the building turned into creatures out of Dawn of the Dead and started killing each other. The building was sealed off and all of the activity was recorded on a handheld camera, mostly in real time. The film ended with the now-legendary shot of our heroine in night vision being pulled away from the stationary camera to an unknown fate. It’s one of the best horror films of the last decade.
[REC] 2 picks up immediately where the first film left off. A Priest and a group of soldiers enter the building to try and find an antidote to the chaos before it potentially escapes. It turns out that the force that was unleashed in the building was due to a demonic possession of a little girl. If they can find the girl, who they believe is still in the building, they can harvest her blood as an antidote. The first act of the film features the Priest and his armed men. The second act focuses on a group of kids who sneak into the building and end up enmeshed in the nightmare. And I won’t spoil the final act.
Rarely has a horror film felt more unnecessary than [REC] 2. The main problem with it is that it has no protagonist. The first film opened in a calm, normal world with a cute reporter trying to get a good, puff piece. She was a heroine to follow throughout the action. There’s no equitable character in [REC] 2, making for a film where the chaos is the lead. What’s scarier – watching a lead struggle to survive or watching people you can barely tell apart? [REC] 2 just isn’t scary and that’s a shame considering the primal fear caused by the first film.
Great horror movies don’t need to have all the dots connected. We don’t care WHY Linda Blair was possessed in The Exorcist. We don’t need to know what’s in the woods in The Blair Witch Project. No one gives a damn exactly what is haunting the morons in Paranormal Activity. You’d be advised to forget [REC] 2 even exists. Go watch the original if you’ve never seen it or even check out Quarantine. You’ll be much better off.
Rating: ONE AND A HALF BONES
Release Date: July 9th, 2010
Starring: Jonathan Mellor, Manuela Velasco, Oscar Zafra, Ariel Casas, and Alejandro Casaseca
Directors: Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza
Writers: Jaume Balaguero & Manu Diez