Wednesday, October 20, 2010

[REC] 2

At last! At last! A decent horror movie. One that meets expectations and delivers on what it promises. And given it is a sequel, that is no mean feat – particularly in an era when most "original" horror movies struggle to be good.

[REC] 2 is a great horror movie. It delivers a strong combination of scary moments and tight plotting and in doing so manages, just as the original did, an environment of constant stress. The pressure doesn’t let up for a second – this is about survival, just as the original was, but the stakes have been raised this time. It isn’t just about the survival of the characters – the implications of what is happening in the apartment block extend well beyond the barriers of the quarantine.

Indeed, the fact that the stakes have been raised is crucial to the success of this sequel. While it is true to the original, it develops the ideas of its predecessor rather than just repeating it. This is no longer about zombies and the authorities trying to contain it – there is something much more satanic going on. And there are new ideas as well, such as the things that can only be seen in the dark. It is a development of the original, not a rehash – and it bodes well for the films yet to come.

It even manages to have a complex plot, that tells a complex and developing story in a non-linear format. Events are shown in a non-sequential way to give different perspectives on the mounting crisis, and a crucial scene from the first film is revisited in such a way to completely change the scope of this story. This is ambitious story-telling for any genre – let alone the sequel to a Spanish zombie movie.

Is it perfect? Well, no. It suffers slightly from over-exposure in the story – part of the success of [REC] was that it was ambiguous as to what was going on. Fleshing out the story has, inevitably, limited a lot of that ambiguity. So the story is now reliant on how you feel about demonic possession as a credible idea in horror movies – personally, I think it works quite well, but some may not like the explicitly religious overtones of the film. Yet this is a small gripe. This is a convincing, well-told and genuinely unnerving movie. It comes highly recommended – something that I don’t often say about modern horror movies.

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