Sunday, April 04, 2010

[Rec] 2

Look Up!

It's about time this film got onto our shores, since the first film was one heck of a roller coaster ride, and was one of the better horror cum first person perspective narrative seen through the lens of a cameraman. Where we last left off, we were put on a cliffhanger with the iconic scene of Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) being dragged away with her television camera left in night vision mode, and that about sums it up, without much explanation other than quick glimpses of suggestions at what she and the others were up against.

Directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza would probably groan at the number of in-camera POV films that have popped up, the last being the highly successful Paranormal Activity, and you'd wonder how they were going to make this sequel a little bit more refreshing other than to rehash plot elements from the earlier film, and utilizing the same plot device. Well, my verdict is that they came up with something so simple yet effective, it triumphs over the original, which is rare these days, and up the ante for any subsequent films in its genre or class to emulate. A trend setter this is, and definitely not a follower.

Balaguero and Plaza gives us a total of 3 narrative threads converging into one toward the last act, and provides ample time and intervals for each to develop before merging them together in a logical manner. We begin with a four-man SWAT team each equipped with in-helmet cameras, which can be linked to their main camera for that in-camera view, which I felt was the first piece of innovative success by the filmmakers. This provides opportunity to expand perspectives as and when desired, and works really well when they have to escort a doctor from the Ministry of Health (Jonathan Mellor) into the quarantined building on a secret mission which closes the gaps left open in the first [REC].

Then there's the other thread involving a group of teenagers who decide to break into the sealed building, and while it's a little bit convenient for them to be equipped with a consumer camcorder, ultimately it works well into the story that's being told, allowing perspectives and equipment so critical to the storyline, to be used to enhance the entire narrative, to give it a little more breadth and envelope that sense of bewilderment quite wonderfully, unless of course you dread another shaky-camera-close-up or yet another camera-dropping-on-the-ground shot, which I have to admit the latter gets done a number of times, making you wish for a cameraman with much sturdier hands, or that his peers could get a grip on themselves and not require the documentarian's help most of the time to settle things.

Tension is kept high throughout, even though from the first film experience we know what to expect since familiar locations get revisited again, and the same kinds of rabid zombie/vampire/whateveryoucallit comes charging right in your face. Body count however is kept lower than its predecessor, and less gory too if I may add. Manuela Velasco also gets a bit role here which I had enjoyed since I'm such a fan and holding hopes that she'll likely be elevated to Sarah Connor like cult-status, and I will debunk any arguments why her role here toward the end is inexplicable or included but unfortunately made to drag things out, One things for sure though, that tongue scene (no spoilers there) is uber-icky!

Fans of [REC] will likely go crazy over [REC]2's expansion and answers provided to its first film, and while it opens doors to possibly one more, I doubt the gimmick can continue, or narratively so, unless Balaguero and Plaza pulls another surprise out of their sleeves. Whatever it is, forget the Hollywood remake Quarantine, or if there's any sequel planned. This is the real deal, so accept no substitutes. Recommended for genre fans, most definitely!

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