In 2007, Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza took the horror world by storm with their film [REC] – which proved you could still jolt some life into the zombie genre, and you didn’t need a big budget. The writer-director team took the simple idea of a group of people trapped in an apartment building after a highly contagious virus breaks out, and they ran with it. Hell – they sprinted! [REC] was so successful, in fact, that a remake, QUARANTINE (2008), was competed even before the original reached the U.S. With all this success, it’s no wonder that two years later [REC] 2 has been released (first on MOD/VOD and now in limited theatrical engagements). But the question stands: is it a worthy follow up to the original? I won’t leave you in suspense; [REC] 2 is scarier, darker, and overall better than the first one. That’s right people, as amazing as the first one is, [REC] 2 is better in every way. Ok, I got that off my chest.
[REC] 2 resumes immediately the ending of the first film. We even see reporter Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) being dragged off into the dark room. We then join a four-member SWAT team as they are on their way to the quarantined apartment building. As the leader says, “Record everything,” and that they do! The SWAT team is joined by Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor), and their job is to contain the outbreak and report on how bad the threat actually is. Well, that’s what they think their mission is.
Writer-directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (as well as writer Manu Deiz) don’t waste any time here. The new group is inside the apartment complex within the first five minutes; the action, horror, and blood start immediately, never letting up. Balagueró and Plaza take all the elements that made [REC] so amazing and injected some hardcore steroids into them. What we get here is not so much a sequel but a continuation of the first film. (I actually watched both REC films back-to-back and they flow beautifully together.)
We also get an explanation as to the cause of the virus (don’t worry, I’ll let you find out on your own) within the first fifteen minutes. The directors take a small aspect of [REC] and make it a major plot point here (the major plot point actually). The virus has a religious cause, and the key to finding a cure lies with the little girl Niña Medeiros (Javier Botet), from the first film. Just wait till you hear the cause of the virus! At first I wasn’t too pleased with the explanation, but as the film moves along (at a very fast pace) the explanation made more and more sense; it was in fact pretty damn original and unique. If you are well versed in your 1980s Italian horror films, [REC] 2 will remind you of Lamberto Bava’s DEMONS and DEMONS 2 (which is a huge compliment).
No character is safe here, and the infected tear through the new group so quickly that the writers needed to include more victims, so about half way through we are introduced to three 20-somethings who manage to get caught up in the action and suddenly find themselves in the quarantined apartment building. When we’re introduced to the new characters, it does slightly interrupt the flow of the movie, but the directors don’t waste any time getting back to all the fun. This time out we get to see the infected up close and personal, with a good view of the effects. The infected are pretty horrifying, and there is enough gore here to fill two sequels.
If you’re a fan of the first [REC] and hate the f*cking terrible remake QUARANTINE, then get out and see [REC] 2!! Most of the time the best we could hope for would be a sequel that doesn’t completely suck; here we get a faster, gorier, scarier, better movie than the first. This is an extremely easy review to write – a no-brainer, in fact. Go out and see [REC] 2; I loved every second of it.
[REC] 2 (2009). Directed by Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza. Written by Jaume Balguero, Manu Diez, Paco Plaza. Cast: Jonathan Mello, Manuela Velasco, Oscar Zafra, Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca, Pablo Rosso, Pep Molina, Andrea Ros, Alex Batllori, Pau Poch, Juli Fabregas, Ferran Terraza, Claudia Silva.