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Spain gave the horror world a doozy of a film with 2007’s [REC]; a chilling, documentary-style tale of a hapless reporter trapped in a nightmare.  Covering a fluff story for her television show, Ángela Vidal and her cameraman find themselves locked in an apartment building after some kind of rabies virus is loosed and begins turning the residents into supernaturally strong, very hungry zombies.  Furthering their terror is the government’s extreme steps to keep the situation contained.  Person by person, the virus spreads and Ángela’s hopes for survival and means to escape dwindle down to nothing.  [REC] was such a sensation that it found new life as a shot-for-shot US remake the following year called Quarantine and the screech-worthy ending has been nicked for other horror pieces like last year’s Paranormal Activity.

With a movie creating that much international buzz, who could blame those involved for dipping into the well twice, right?  I can.  [REC] 2 undoes all the ingenuity that writer/directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza displayed so brilliantly in the first film.  [REC] straddled the lines between samples of other films (- most notably The Blair Witch Project), but added enough style and wit to make those accents the film’s own, whereas [REC] 2 is nothing but a hodgepodge of horror movie clichés and out-and-out ripoffs.  In 2009, I disemboweled a film called The Unborn for being an incredibly stupid Semitic version of the Exorcist, well this time I’m filing my nails for [REC] 2 as an equally idiotic Spanish version.

[REC] 2 picks up where [REC] ends, taking us outside the contaminated building.  We see the father of the child from the first film frantically pleading with cops to let him get antibiotics to his little girl.  A new POV camera is put into play as a Spanish SWAT team readies itself to enter the building.  They are accompanied on this task by a mysterious stranger who has the ultimate say on the team’s ability to evacuate the building; a power this fellow has no problem abusing as what at first appears to be a routine search and rescue becomes something much more bizarre.  The leader reveals himself to be a priest and the virus the troops were geared to protect against is actually a demonic possession that is somehow transferred via blood and saliva.  In a parallel subplot, three naughty teenagers decide to try for serious YouTube hits by infiltrating and filming the doings inside the quarantined flat.  As the way of all things in a horror film, the worst laid plans of everyone involved go awry and none of the participants in this year’s film are prepared for the insanity within the apartment building.

What was the point of making this a movie about demonic possession?  Where was there to go, when you offer nothing that hasn’t been done before?  The whole original virus angle was fine, why add the extra helping of religious cheese?  Then, once that dubious element is introduced, nobody bothers to explain it fully so that it makes any sense.  There are entire reams of script so artlessly lifted from the Exorcist and every other demonic possession movie ever made that [REC] 2 isn’t so much a sequel to the truly scary [REC], as it is a spoof of other horror films and perhaps unintentionally, itself.  There is a glaring missed opportunity for redemption for the film, when the awful mysterious priest premise gives way to the subplot about the three kids sneaking in the building for giggles.  That should have been where the film began and stayed, keeping the virus idea, which worked perfectly well in [REC], but no; we have to endure this stubborn, competent Exorcist rehash, including projectile vomit.  There’s not even a care for continuity between the two films as Ángela, our heroine from the original movie is returned to us (- sorry, this tripe isn’t worth a spoiler warning) and her hair is a different colour and length than in [REC].  Mind you, the events taking place in [REC] 2 are meant to occur in the same day.  This is typical of the slapdash manner in which [REC] 2 is constructed.  Even the terrible religious angle is temporarily abandoned for another thought entirely as we see some strange parasitic creature enter the body of one of the victims, telling us the filmmakers think evil demons look like the creepy ear slugs used in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan.  This movie is just a hot mess and no amount of holy water could save it.  [REC] 2 is a straight-up money grab so terrible it threatens to ruin the memory of how good [REC] was and on every level it just fails and fails and fails. 


~ The Lady Miz Diva

July 9th, 2010




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