Monday, 31 May 2010

Cinema Review: [REC] 2

What started out as an unknown, almost entirely unpublicised, low-budget horror film transcended into a global success, scaring the vast majority of audiences witless. Who do we have to thank? Juame Balagueró and Paco Plaza, the duo behind Spanish horror [REC] and it's newly-released sequel, [REC] 2.

Beginning instantly after the original ended, we follow a small SWAT team as they enter the quarantined apartment complex, outfitted with cameras, carrying guns and hauling battering rams. Accompanied by a medical officer, the team's aim is to find a blood sample of one of the infected. Sadly, they're completely unaware of the severity of the situation.

Our first scene recaps the last scene from [REC], instantly reminding us of the nauseatingly intense feeling which we were left reeling from. Quickly, we're introduced to our testosterone-induced male characters and the devious medical expert - our more prominent character, really being the only one (until approximately a third of the way through) to progress the storyline to something which individualises it from it's predecessor.

From the moment they step foot in the darkened complex, a sense of overwhelming dread is increasingly apparent. Pacing themselves up into the penthouse on the top floor, every step onto a new level shrouds you in chills at the sheer unknown which could pop out of any door. These continuously intense and chilling moments, much like the first, are throughout, but, with the additional aid from the high-powered weaponry, are a lot more action-orientated, providing high-octane thrills as well as fully-fledged 'jump out of your seat' shocks.

As our story unravels, the surprisingly rapid change from the first - from potentially realistic to entirely supernatural - is an odd direction, but a successful one at that. Despite losing it's believability, the option to fully immerse yourself into the characters' shoes is forced upon you due to the first-person direction. Exactly like the first, this is the biggest asset the franchise holds, throwing you into the unimaginable terror you only wish to be included in during your worst nightmare.

The lack of characterization is a given; each person - including the second set of characters which are impressively introduced - are merely pawns in the game set to trigger off specific happenings. That is until a gloriously well-known character crops up, shit-stirring the film into the absolute unknown, leading to a slightly befuddled but worthy climax. The last scene, especially, leaving a lasting impression.

While it doesn't equal how intensely terrifying and raw [REC] felt, [REC] 2 is a nod in the right direction. Much like Ridley Scott's Alien and James Cameron's undeniably different sequel, [REC] 2 stands as an almost individual film, but retains what made the first so popular all-the-while adding it's own. A thrilling and savagely brutal sequel.


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