Far too good to be classed a ‘guilty pleasure’, [REC] 2 is a phenomenal, if not-for-everyone, second offering that forces audiences to keep pace or get left behind.
Everyone’s a critic nowadays – and when it comes to this super-speedy sequel, which judders with kinetic, shaky-cam scares and what-the-fuck? narrative about-turns, they’re all going to have the proverbial field day. Perhaps they should.
Here’s what they’re going to write. It’s a computer game movie clicking like a hyperactive teenager between POV footage shot by the SWAT team investigating the original film’s quarantined Barcelona apartment block. They’ll reel off the antecedents (The Exorcist, The Descent, Demons, Friday The 13th Part IX) like anything’s 100 per cent pure anymore. They’ll pick apart minor plot joins while ignoring the beauty of the structure as a whole, and they’ll give away all the good bits for nothing. That is, after all, what those critics paid to get in.
But out in the real world [REC] 2 might be the audience flick of 2010. For here is an ambitious, technically phenomenal and almost farcically tense sequel that lands nearly every leap of faith it excitingly attempts. As Dr Owen (Jonathan Mellor) and his gung-ho gun team sweep the stricken building, weapons out, panicky breathing hammering the speakers, the doomy (some might say Doom-y) atmosphere does indeed feel like a first-person shoot-’em-up. So? Computer games can be just as immersive as films, and this no-nonsense device puts us smack-bang in the centre of an unholy shit storm.
And what a storm. As black-eyed, wet-mouthed infectees old and young hurl themselves relentlessly at the camera, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza use subjective sound, infra-red, split-screen, slo-mo, broken lenses and upside down imagery to delight and disorientate in equal measures. 'Record it all, dammit!' is the SWAT team’s pre-mission mantra, and on a technical level alone there’s no denying this is the most accomplished camcorder horror ever made. Indeed, when the frame finally goes black for five long seconds as the camera is passed back and forth between characters and storylines you won’t know whether to fill your lungs or your pants.
There’ll be no spoilers here – despite the more extreme plot embellishments, we already know what’s up there in the attic, and genre fans have definitely ridden parts of this rollercoaster before. But how often do we see filmmakers going to such lengths to up their (already impeccable) game? And how often does a lowly horror sequel have the stones to branch off into different but interlinked directions, eliminating all downtime and leaving us, flabbergasted, back where we began?
Far too good to be classed a ‘guilty pleasure’, [REC] 2 is a phenomenal, if not-for-everyone, second offering that forces audiences to keep pace or get left behind. It’s a fearless, franchise-building effort unafraid to throw everything at the screen to see what sticks. And what does? Almost everything. So fuck the critics and go find out for yourself.
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The greatest zombie sequel since Dawn of the Dead.