Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rec 2

When I saw Rec (2007) last year, I was more than slightly impressed by the gradually escalating tension, and the horrifying last five minutes.  Set almost entirely in an apartment building in Spain, it started innocuously with a reporter and a cameraman accompanying a few firemen on an emergency call.  A short while later, a resident, afflicted by a psychotic contagion (becoming a fast-moving zombie in everything but name), bites a fireman.  The contagion spreads, and the apartment building is locked down; anyone escaping would be shot. I won't spoil the rest of the film for you, but we're left wondering about the fate of the reporter.

Rec was filmed from the point of view of the cameraman - although I'm not a big fan of Michael Bay-style shaky-cam, it worked well in the movie; it provided a sense of immediacy that amplified the tension.

Rec 2 (2009) picks up a few minutes after the first film.  An armed quasi-military squad (think SWAT) are asked to bodyguard a researcher and another cameraman while he collects a sample of blood from the building.  Of course, things go very bad very quickly.

A rather unexpected diversion in the film introduces three teenagers; they're goofing around with a video camera, when they make a bad decision and find themselves trapped in the apartment. The kids are annoying in a way that only kids shoe-horned into a movie can be (i.e. destined for peril), and serve as a minor plot point..

The end of Rec implied a religious connection to the contagion, and this is further amplified in Rec 2.  The researcher turns out to a be a priest involved in fighting this outbreak of demonic possession.  This gives Rec 2 a certain 1970's old-school feel (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). This may have resonated more in largely catholic Spain, but I had trouble accepting this at several points (especially during the Exorcist-like interrogation of one of the teenagers).

The shaky-cam is shakier, more so in the action scenes and sometimes it's difficult to adequately tell what's happening to who.  It's not overly annoying, though; if the filmmakers wanted viewers confused and disoriented, it worked.  There's certainly some inventiveness - a zombie is dispatched with a firework thrust down its throat, leading to a remarkable scene in a dimly-lit corridor; the shaky-cam highlights the shear anarchy of what we're witnessing.

The slow build-up of the first film is largely discarded, and there's more Zombie-huntin' with guns.  It doesn't have the sparse, linear, plotting of the first film, but chooses to throw in a few curve balls.

The ending implies that the demonic contagion will spread to the outside world, and sets up the premise for Rec 3.  If Rec 3 retains the immediacy and intimacy of its two prequels, I can see it being a success with genre-fans.

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