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Featured DVD Review: [REC] 2

July 10th, 2011

[REC] 2 - Buy from Amazon

[REC] opened in its native Spain and became a massive hit there. The film also earned incredible reviews, but despite this, it was never able to earn a theatrical release. (Although it was remade as Quarantine.) A couple years later, [REC] 2 came out and was again a hit in Spain and this time earned a token limited release here. Now, it is finally coming out on the home market. Was it worth the wait? Or should fans of the original stick with the first one?

The Movie

After a brief shot of the end of [REC], we are introduced to a special ops squad of the Spanish police (Jefe, Rosso, Martos, and Larra) that has been called in by the Ministry of Health to go into a quarantined building and deal with an infection. The first few minutes are spent getting to the scene while checking equipment, which includes checking the camera equipment, naturally. When they arrive on the scene, they are told they will be escorting Dr. Owen, who is there to discover the nature and the extent of the infection.

When they get inside the apartment building, Dr. Owen tells the special ops squad that the infection started in the penthouse, and that they have to go there. After finding a tape recording talking about enzymes and infections, they hear the sounds of a possible survivor. But when one of their own is attacked and turned, we learn the truth about Dr. Owens and the mission, which is... a huge spoiler. This is a bit of a problem for me, because we are very early in the movie and the major twist has been revealed, before all of the characters have been introduced.

About halfway through the movie, we switch perspective to three teenagers (Ori, Tito, and Mire) goofing around on the roof. (They are filming a prank involving a blow-up doll and some bottle rockets.) They are immediately caught by the police and escorted off the roof. Once on the ground, they film the commotion including the initial meeting between Dr. Owens and the special ops team, as well as a man desperately trying to enter the building. When they later see this same man talking to a firefighter and going over what looks like a building plan, they figure they are going to sneak into the building. They decide to follow, just to film what is happening, but like most rash decisions, they are woefully unprepared for what they find. When they are spotted by the firefighter, he tries to get them to leave, but the police saw then enter and sealed the way out. Now they are stuck inside the building.

It isn't long before the five of them realize just how much danger they are in and not long after that they meet up with the police. Or at least the survivors meet up with the remaining police.

Beyond that we are way too far into spoiler territory to deal with. Although I could probably give away the main twist that we learn early on and not ruin the film at all, as this is a horror film that generates its scares through mood and atmosphere more than character and plot. This not an insult, but a statement of fact. Fortunately, while some of the characters are far from compelling (a couple don't even need names) the atmosphere is amazing, for the most part. Some of the scenes are difficult to take, as some of the infected are kids, but this is used effectively and doesn't feel exploitative. There are perhaps a few too many jump scares, while it is not unfair to complain it is too similar to the first film.

This segues nicely into the biggest complaint most will have about the film. There's not a lot different from the first one. If you didn't like the first film, there's little reason to see this one. On the other hand, if you were a fan of [REC], you might dislike the feeling of "Been there, done that." The biggest difference is the multiple points of view. [REC] was seen from the perspective of the reporter. This time around we are mostly seeing what Rosso, one of the special ops members, is recording. Because they are part of a squad, he can also patch into the helmet cams of each of his squadmates, we get to see more than just his point of view, which is helpful when the group get separated. Then the second half of the film we also get the point of view of the three teens. Some have complained that having all of these points of view dilutes the film's atmosphere, and while I disagree with this sentiment, it is a matter of taste.

Another common complaint I've seen is about the big reveal early on, which again I won't get into. There is a point of view in horror that the less you know the better. Films like Halloween that explore the motivations of the villain lessen the horror, because the unknown is always scarier than the known. Again, this is a valid complaint, but also a matter of taste.

Overall, [REC] 2 works and it is worth checking out.

The Extras

The extras on the DVD start with four deleted / extended scenes with a total running time of close to seven minutes. There are three behind-the-scene featurettes, each looking at the making of a specific scene. The total running time here is over 50 minutes, which is longer than I was expecting. There is a nine-minute tour of the set, which includes an introduction with the filmmakers describing how they tried to make the same location fresh for the new movie. There's an eleven-minute Q&A session at a press conference. And finally a nine-minute look at the film's tour at various events. There's no audio commentary track, but since it is a foreign language film, this is not a surprise, and the extras we do get are better than expected for a film like this.

The Verdict

If you saw [REC] and thought to yourself, 'That was awesome; I want more of that!' then [REC] 2 is worth checking out. You probably won't like it quite as much, but it is still a very good movie. Add in the extras on the DVD and it is a solid purchase.

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Filed under: Video Review, [Rec] 2