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REC 2
Genre: Fast Zombies (also Spanish)
Director: Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza, 2009
Starring: Spanish unknowns (aside from a couple who might be recognized from the first film)
TL;DR: Not as spine-gripping as the first fantastic film, and picked up a few plot-holes in transition, but still all-around freaky and great.

FYI to folks: REC 2 is not the same as Quarantine 2, the sequel to the American re-make of REC.  Quarantine 2 (which I am also hoping to see before Halloween) took the re-make series into a completely different direction, due to changes made in the last 10 minutes of Quarantine.

REC 2 would be a fantastic film just for its cinematography and pacing if only it weren't a follow up to a film which used all of those same tools just as adeptly.  As a result, REC 2 is already up against some tough standards, and the plot elements introduced to bridge the two films unfortunately widens the gap.

REC 2 picks up pretty much immediately where REC left off, this time from the perspective of a Barcelona SWAT team.  They are tasked with escorting a special investigator into the building to determine the extent of the contagion.  And here's where REC 2 starts getting into trouble.

One of the terrifying things about the first film is that the audience and the characters had no fucking idea what was going on or what they were up against.  Every thing that didn't fit, or didn't make sense, added to it.  The first time that the infected don't attack in REC is actually kind of scarier than when they did because now we, and the characters, are convinced that they're about to, and we jump at every little thing.  In REC 2, the investigator knows everything.  And he shares it with the characters (and us).  So when things begin to go wrong, we're not left with the unknowing terror of the first film - we're just left to wonder well, why weren't they prepared if they knew what they were in for?

For example, in the very beginning of the film, the SWAT team is sent in with gas masks and other anti-gas gear.  When they get inside the building, they are told that the gas masks were all for show, that the virus is only transmitted by fluids, and they can take them off, exposing their bare faces to pretty much everything.... Wait, what?  That makes no fucking sense!  If the investigator knows that fluids are infectants, then why, at the very least, didn't he bring in proper gear in discrete boxes or something.  Also, just like Aliens, it's a lot harder for individual monsters to be scary when the good guys are wearing body armor and carrying submachine guns.  

To the directors' credit, the pacing and visual direction of the film mostly makes up for this.  REC 2 is still totally fucking freaky, and claustrophobic, and dark, and intense, and the handheld camera conceit works wonderfully.  It's just that REC did every single one of those things better, and REC 2 doesn't really offer anything new to compensate. 

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February 2012

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