First off, I recognize I never actually reviewed the original REC even though I already compared it with Quarantine and now I have this review posted. I intend to go back to it but I already had this review ready to go so I decided to post it ahead of my review for the original REC. (Update: Finally posted my [REC] review!)
***SPOILERS FOLLOW. READ ONLY AFTER WATCHING REC AND REC 2…***
I loved that REC 2 starts right where REC ended. That intense ride of REC continues full speed here. This time, instead of a news crew, we are mainly following a SWAT team. Seeing them get ready really gets you pumped up because you know what they are up against even though they don’t and you know what they are armed with will get the job done right. Unlike the original, this movie is seen through the lens of three different cameras; each one carrying us through three different acts. The SWAT team has cameras on their helmets while the main camera we see through in Act One of this movie is a large video camera being held by one of the four members of the SWAT team. This is why the main camera man doesn’t hold a gun in his hands throughout the movie. It actually took me about three or four viewings to recognize that. This camera also connects wirelessly with the helmet cameras of each SWAT member which becomes integral throughout the movie. So even though we see the viewpoints of the other SWAT members we see it from the Picture-in-Picture feature of the main camera which allows for some very intense action scenes. In Act Two we are seeing the viewpoint through the lens of a group of three teenagers’ camera. It actually took me three or four viewings to realize that in the Final Act we are back through the lens of Pablo’s original camera since Angela was seen holding it when she first appears as the teenagers’ camera battery dies at the end of Act 2 and the SWAT teams’ main camera breaks at the end of Act 1.
After watching REC 2 the first time I have to admit I was disappointed. I think because of the change in direction… or let me say the change in mythology to be more precise. It showed me that I interpreted the ending of REC incorrectly. After watching REC, I took the ending as the man who was doing his research in the penthouse along with the Vatican had been completely wrong about what they were dealing with. I was thinking that these people were truly infected with a virus and the original people who were dealing with it had completely mishandled it and thus the infection spread. They had focused their attention on trying to exorcise a girl who was infected with a disease and not actually possessed by a demon. So when the decision was made by the Vatican to kill her instead, since exorcism was fruitless, it was just too late and the infection spread. That’s just how I interpreted part 1. As most of us know most horror movies end similarly in the sense that they leave you guessing as to what happened and REC was no different, therefore, that was my guess.
However, a sequel was made and it reveals or continues the revelation that these people aren’t infected in the true sense of the word but rather they are all possessed by a demon. Now, I should preface that I actually stumbled upon the REC series because I happened to watch a trailer for REC 3 and saw it as a zombie movie. So i decided to catch up and expected to watch a series of zombie movies and REC did not disappoint that expectation. As I watched REC 2 for the first time though I was also watching it with my own understanding of the original (soon to be realized as a misunderstanding) so when the ‘Health Minister’ starts busting out his rosary and prayers I started to get confused. Then he revealed that he was a priest so I thought again that this guy has no idea what he’s dealing with. Of course once he ‘tests’ the blood and it catches fire then I realized that I’m not watching a zombie movie but an exorcist type of movie. This change of direction/mythology was the cause of my initial disappointment.
After two days I decided to give it another chance but this time understanding and accepting that this is a religious, God vs. Satan, priest vs. demon movie. This allowed me to appreciate the film much more. The scares and attacks from the infected ones are just as heart-pumping as the original as is the grittyness of the dialogue and debates that go on. I agree with most people that REC was phenomenal and REC 2 was just a class below that.
Some other things I didn’t like:
-The mythology of demonic possession in this movie has some new attributes which leaves viewers confused. I’ve never heard of the idea of a single demon possessing multiple people at the same time. Also, why is demonic possession passed on like a virus? That’s weird.
-I didn’t buy the fact that the teenagers went into the building purely for kicks. That took me out of the movie and gave me a “Yeah, right…” moment.
-Angela’s charm is noticeably missed, however, I do understand that there really isn’t room for it this time around. It’s all serious business here.
-The first time I watched this I immediately questioned why Angela wasn’t deathly afraid of actually going back to the penthouse where she knew that creature was. She went willingly and without question. I know it’s one of those “she’s not who she seems to be” answers but she does flip out at the end when she wants the priest to give the order. At least a little fight, if for nothing else, to keep up the charade. It could have given her a little more character development and some sense of comfort for the audience to see that she is OK before the big surprise. Maybe some might say I’m being nit-picky on this one but I do feel like it is necessary especially for first time viewers.
-Pablo breaks the spotlight on his camera at the end of [REC] and then the priest asks Rosso if he fixed the spotlight. He answers “Yes.” No explanation.
The difference with [REC] is that there was nothing I didn’t like. It is perfect as a stand-alone movie. Because of the shift in mythology – zombie to demon possession with confusing features added to it – I feel that [REC] 2 is an optional sequel. It’s worth seeing but it’s up to you to decide if you want it to connect with [REC] or just leave [REC] as it originally was. That being said, [REC] 2 is still an excellent must-see film for all horror fans and the scares are far better than most other horror movies.
Movie Review: Sleep Tight – From one of the two directors of the [REC] series.