Jonathan Mellor - Dr. Owen
Manuela Velasco - Angela Vidal
Javier Botet - Tristana Medieros
Oscar Sanchez - Zafra
Ariel Casas - Larra
Alejandro Casaseca - Martos
Pablo Rosso - Rosso
Andrea Ros - Mire
Genre - Horror/Virus/Zombies/Found Footage
Running Time - 85 Minutes
About fifteen minutes after the events of the first [REC], where a Spanish building was quarantined due to a virus that turned the infected into flesh hungry monsters, a SWAT team enters the building with a member from the Ministry of Health to investigate the situation. As they search for blood that will help with a cure, they realize that the virus wasn't just random and it may stem from something much more supernatural in nature.
I've made it very clear that I'm not the biggest fan of this "found footage" trend in horror. As a business decision, it's smart as you'll gain a bigger profit from a cheaper budget. As a product to consume, it's either hit or miss. For some premises, the found footage trend works to the film's benefit as it allows the audience to watch things through the eyes of the characters. Then again, you may have to deal with shaky camera work, bad lighting, and even a lot of repetition. If you've seen one "found footage" film, you most likely seen ninety-five percent of them. However, when the concept works, it really works. 2007's [REC] [later remade for the U.S. as 2008's QUARANTINE] is one of those where the "found footage" aspect really enhanced the subject matter, creating a lot of atmosphere, tension, and even a creep factor most modern horror films lack. [REC] 2 comes close to achieving the same level of success, but it definitely suffers from sequel-itis that brings it down a notch or two.
Good Things: I liked that [REC] 2 continued the story from [REC] minutes after the first film ended. It feels like a throwback to slasher films that would have multiple films occur within the same day, making one feel as if they're watching a larger narrative within separate parts. I also liked how it explained what was the deal with the virus - something that has divided fans of the franchise. Some feel the origin of the virus should have been kept a mystery. I, however, don't mind the explanation, since it takes the film from a standard "virus infection" flick to something with more substance. It puts an interesting twist to a premise that's been done to death, putting a supernatural edge to it. Yeah, it could be a detriment to the rest of the franchise. But at least [REC] 2 tries to differentiate itself from the first film, which I can appreciate and respect.
I also really liked the direction by both Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, who also directed the first film. It looks and feels like a [REC] film, as well as a continuation of the first film without forcing it too much. I also dug the different point of views between the SWAT Team characters, who each had a camera on their helmets to capture different things. The switching between one character to another was pretty flawless and pretty cool. I also thought the film was more action-oriented, with a quicker pace and more brutality. Some folks probably preferred the slower burn of [REC], but I appreciated that [REC] 2 got right into the action and didn't look back.
The acting was also fine for the story at hand. Jonathan Mellor stands out as Dr. Owen, pretty much being the film's lead. Mellor was pretty loud and brash for most of the film, but it fit his character and the secret he hides about his reason to being inside the infected apartment complex. The SWAT Team actors and the child actors all had their moments. And it was nice to see Manuela Velasco return as Angela Vidal, the protagonist of the first film. I really liked her performance as well, and I'm curious where her character goes in [REC] 4: APOCALYPSE.
Bad Things: Even though I thought the acting was fine, I really disliked the new characters introduced in [REC] 2. Yes, all of them. I couldn't care about these new people for multiple reasons. One, there was no real character development for any of them. Sure, [REC] wasn't major on that aspect either, but you really got to learn about those characters by how they dealt with the quarantine and the spread of infection. In [REC] 2, all these characters really do is yell and scream at each other. Plus, they do really dumb things that just irk me. Especially those teen characters, who thought it'd be smart to enter a sealed off area for kicks. I had no sympathy for any of them. All the characters felt different in [REC]. That's not the case here.
Also, there are way too many characters in this film. From the SWAT Team, to Dr. Owen, to the teenagers, to Angela, and to the infected tenants inside of the business - there were just too many people to follow. I get that you need lambs for the slaughter, but at least make them somewhat interesting to dedicate 80 minutes of your film to.
And while I liked the supernatural aspect of the virus, I disliked how each infected victim was a vessel to the person who started the spread of infection. It felt a bit silly and wasn't really necessary at all. If you want to treat the infected as demonic, go right ahead. But when it goes to Pazuzu territory, I start to lose interest. This doesn't happen a whole lot in the film, at least. But when it did, it just felt forced.
THE FINAL HOWL
While not as good as [REC], [REC] 2 still was more hit than miss. If the characters were likeable and kept to a minimum, I probably would have enjoyed it more. But I did like the direction, the twists and explanation of the virus worked for me, and the acting was good considering how annoying the characters were written. I don't think [REC] really needed a sequel, but the first one we got ain't too shabby. One of the better "found footage" films out there, in my opinion. But then again, that's not saying a whole lot.
3 Howls Outta 4