When I first saw the trailer for [REC] 2, my nerd radar was going off the charts. FPS-style zombie action with a SWAT team!?!?! I was more than excited. Could this be the kick-ass found footage film that finally blows our mind with non-stop action? Well, it could have been, but sadly, it was not.
While I certainly enjoyed [REC] 2, it was mainly just a big disappointment. Beginning immediately where the first film leaves off, a SWAT team that just so happens to be equipped with video cameras enters the quarantined building, led by a vaguely authoritative doctor. The SWAT team quickly discovers that this is more than just a virus and that the doctor is not what he seems. The possession angle that was revealed in the end of the first film (and ignored by the American remake) comes full force, as our heroes are not battling zombies, but demons.
"Just don't spit pea soup on my uniform honey."
I was excited that the filmmakers steered themselves as far from Quarantine (not that I didn’t enjoy the remake, because I enjoyed it a lot) as possible by really seizing the demonic possession plot. However, this only works some of the time. All the creepy-crawly child-demons scurrying about the ceilings were effective. The apparent lack of a threat from the other zombie/demons inside the building was not so effective. While [REC] was successful in capturing the hopeless, overwhelmed feeling, much of [REC]2 has a meandering feeling. The characters’ journey never really evolves, as they are after the same thing the entire film and somehow manage to screw things up whenever they get a chance to escape.
Ack! More evidence that bald, skinny kids are evil.
Another distinction between the original film and its predecessor is the characters. The sequel almost seems to have a stubborn goal of forcing you not to really like any of the characters. Why is one SWAT team member different from another? I don’t really know. They’re all pretty similar. All the civilians introduced were unlikeable and painfully stupid, so what’s a moviegoer to do? Sit back in an apathetic state and watch the events unfold, not caring who lives or who dies. I had the exact opposite feelings when watching the first film, because the filmmakers did a brilliant job of capturing a wide variety of characters, whose individual plights we sympathized with.
Every frame should have looked like this.
The pacing issue is huge in [REC] 2. Half way through the film, the movie switches point of views, departing from the SWAT team to follow a group of moronic teenagers who decide to sneak into a building they know is quarantined. Brilliant, eh? It’s even better when they encounter the firefighter who tells them to leave and what do they do? Point a gun at him and proclaim that they have some right to be there. Whatever, stupid movie kids. Anyway, this shift in pace and perspective really dampens the film. Not only do we have to watch many of the same events over again, but it’s uninteresting and unnecessary. From the trailer I was expecting an intense, fast-paced film and somehow it managed to be slower than the first movie, but without all the suspense.
Lord, deliver us from mediocrity.
I don’t mean to rain on [REC] 2’s parade and all, but it really isn’t a great film. It’s difficult to summon up the success of the first film again, and indeed, it’s probably not fair to measure a sequel by its predecessor. This inevitably leads to disappointment. However, [REC] 2 was simply a squandered opportunity to not only be better than the original, but to be a good film based on an interesting premise. The basic plot was there, but the characters, storytelling, and suspense wasn’t.