It was difficult to imagine where writer-director Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza would go with a second REC film. More bloodthirsty humans ripping the healthy apart? Yes, but of course, there has to be more to it and REC 2 has just that; something that expands on the original story providing some novelty while keeping the assets of the original in play.
REC 2 opens right where the first film left off, with poor Ángela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) being dragged into the darkness after a hellish experience during which everyone in a Barcelona apartment building is turned into or mauled by a rabid human being. After losing contact with a health inspector sent in to investigate the situation, a new unit is assembled. A small SWAT team accompanies a Ministry of Health official in hopes of ending the predicament. The group safely makes it to the penthouse where it’s revealed that the health official isn’t with the ministry at all; he’s a priest investigating demonic possessions, not viruses.
The goal is to secure a blood sample from the Medeiros girl, the original source of the demonic possession. The problem is, from there, the zombies come out in full force. While the team fights for survival, a group of kids looking for a thrill sneak into the building. Their fun and games quickly turn deadly, but their secret entrance seals behind them and now there’s no way out.
The single-POV shaky cam style of the original film gets an upgrade in the sequel. Not only does the SWAT team arrive with a professional grade video camera, but each member is equipped with a camera attached to his helmet and the uninvited kids carry a handheld one as well. Rather than bouncing back and forth between the three, REC 2 is divided into three segments, the first of which is seen from the top-notch device and the helmet cams, the second from the kiddies’ viewpoint and then back to that pro camera. The comprehensive and innovative portrayal keeps the overused style fresh and way out of gimmicky territory.
Even better, the story being depicted elaborates on the original scenario and is endlessly intriguing. We only got a taste of the virus’ demonic nature in the original and here, that concept is expanded in a frightening manner. This is no longer the story of crazed infected humans running around biting each other’s faces off; it’s a terrifying tale of deadly people being influenced by a demonic source. Cure or no cure, a situation that once felt as though it could be controlled now has the potential to be unstoppable.
Neither the SWAT team and priest nor the kids can command compassion quite like Vidal and her cameraman, but the concern for the situation grows so intensely strong, the characters become a secondary factor. There’s a smattering of unoriginal dialogue, most of which comes from the priest, with lines like, “It seems we are not alone,” and one SWAT member, Larra (Ariel Casas), can only spill out a series of hysterical questions in the midst of an obnoxious temper tantrum. The film’s best performance comes from a perfectly incorporated surprise visitor.
REC 2’s only other weakness are a few overcomplicated scenes. Most of the battle sequences are comprised of a perfect mixture of gore, darkness and combat, but tip the scale in the slightest and the action becomes hard to follow. There’s also an abundance of yelling and high-pitched screeching that’s pushed so far it makes moments a little uncomfortable to watch. However, you know what you’re getting yourself into when opting to catch REC 2, and that in itself, puts these flaws in their place.
Balagueró and Plaza really know what they’re doing. The continuation of their story is what keeps you intrigued, but it’s the eeriness and constant need to be prepared for what’s lurking around the corner that makes this film downright as horrifying as it is relentless. REC 2 it isn’t as good as its predecessor, but only finds itself a notch below, making it an enjoyable and honorable sequel, so much so that the idea of a third film is welcomed. And, of course, that door is left wide open.