MOVIE: [REC]2 (2009)

NOTE:  This review contains spoilers for the first film in this series, [REC], and its American remake, Quarantine.  That probably goes without saying, but better safe than sorry when it comes to these things, non?  Oui.

I still remember exactly where I was when I saw the first [REC] movie:  curled into a terrified, tight little ball on my mother-in-law’s guest room bed, watching it play on my laptop while my husband was in the other room watching TV (no fan of horror films, he).  When it was over, I unfolded myself, padded into the living room, and announced I’d just seen the scariest movie of my life.  (He didn’t seem terribly impressed, but what does he know from scary?  Pfft.)  I watched it again a few months later, as well as the American remake (Quarantine), and even though it wasn’t nearly as scary the second or ‘Merican times, I still rank it pretty high in my list of Awesome.  When I can remember every detail about the scene I was sitting in myself while watching a movie, that means it was either an incredibly great experience or an incredibly bad one.  This one: incredibly great.

And so, as you can imagine, I approached its sequel, [REC]2, with a mix of excitement and trepidation.  Could it possibly be any good?  Would watching it just ruin the original for me in some way?  Would it be disappointing?  Hokey?  Stupid?

Answers:  Yes, No, No, No, and No!  Though it’s not as good as the first film, as few sequels are, it’s still one heck of a good time.  Well-constructed, well-acted, and, though not scary (to me, anyway), definitely thrilling to watch.

The story picks up immediately where the original left off, with TV reporter Angela Vidal being dragged away by the zombie-esque little girl in the attic who started the whole thing off.  Cut to the front of the quarantined building, where a doctor with the Department of Health is preparing to enter with a handful of SWAT team members, on a mission to get up to the attic where he believes a cure for the “infection” is tucked away.

In case you’ve forgotten what was revealed in the end of the original, it had to do with a researcher who was studying an infected girl he’d locked up in an attempt to find a cure for her.  Thinking she was secure, the researcher had hidden her away up there for months — until the disease got loose and began to spread through the building.  The doctor believes the researcher had that cure nearly completed when the outbreak outbroke and the plan is to get in there, grab it, and get back out, with the help of his hired guns.

The gang goes inside where, naturally, they are promptly attacked by a variety of infected residents.  They manage to get to the attic, finding a vial of patient zero’s blood — the key to the cure.  Part 1 of The Plan is a success.  The only problem is, Part 2 involves getting back out of the building, which is going to be a bit of a challenge now that half the hired guns are dead.  To complicate matters, a group of kids with a camera have broken into the building and are now running around recording everything.  They can’t be allowed out with their footage, so the doctor and what remains of his goons have to catch up to them before making a break for it.

Oy vey, it’s going to be a long night for our intrepid heroes.

We eventually learn all the details about the origin of the infection, details I probably wouldn’t have swallowed in an American film, but which made enough sense to me in a Spanish one — you’ll see what I mean when you get there.  And while the story wasn’t nearly as good as the original’s (it’s more fun when you’re clueless, in my opinion), it was still completely entertaining.  I had the big twist at the end figured out before it was revealed, but not too far in advance, and though they tacked on a scene immediately after its revelation that I think would’ve been better left out (speaking of hokey: giant worm thing = NO), overall, I thought this film gave us a pretty sharp twist on the usual rage-virus/zombie story.  I also liked the variety of cameras involved — each soldier has their own helmet-mounted camera, allowing us to see their point-of-view, and the kids have a camera as well, letting us into their side of the story at about the half-way point.  We also end up reunited with the TV camera from the original — hold onto your hats!).

Overall, damn satisfying, and, happily, the end leaves us with an intriguing direction for a [REC]3.  Too risky?  Hard to say.  Three-for-three seems like a lot to ask.  But I’ll still be chomping at the bit if they make it.

[REC]2 just opened in theaters (Seattlites: it’s at the Varsity right now, I believe).   But you can also rent it from Amazon.com for about $10 (with English subtitles), and it was well worth every red cent from where I sat.  Both Spanish films recommended, and I was pleased with the American remake of the original as well (Quarantine).

[Pre-queue at Netflix | Amazon Video-On-Demand]

Genre: Horror, Foreign
Cast: Jonathan Mellor, Manuela Velasco, Óscar Zafra, Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca, Pablo Rosso

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4 Responses to “MOVIE: [REC]2 (2009)”

  1. Trip Says:

    You had me at “Note:” up there. There is no doubt, the Spanish make some of the best horror and suspense flicks out there today. The Swedes aren’t too shabby either.

    I say we get the UN to pass a worldwide decree that Spain gets all zombie flicks for the next 5 years, and Sweden gets vampire flicks.

    Speaking of foreign-ness, this came up at work recently: which movies sported actors with the worst accents?

    Tom Cruise dominated the watercooler with his atrocious Irish accent in Far and Away, but the first one that immediately popped into my head was John Malkovitch’s Russian accent as the gangster KGB in Rounders.

    “He byeet me – fyair und skvair”. Yikes.

  2. megwood Says:

    Christian Bale doing American, Keanu Reeves doing British — equally unbearable. Oh god, and let’s not forget Mel Gibson’s Scottish in Braveheart, voted worst-ever Scottish accent by Scots.

  3. Trip Says:

    After this week, let’s just forget Mel Gibson.

  4. Meg Says:

    Point taken, seconded, so moved.

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