DVD Review: [REC]2

This sequel to the found footage first-person horror film [REC] has gotten a bit of love since it hit the festival circuit back in 09. Now that it's finally getting an R1 DVD, how does it hold up?

First, I should confess to having never finished the 2007 original, which saw a film crew quarantined inside of a Barcelona tenement alongside it's residents as a zombie plague swept through the building. To this day I can't really account for my resistance to the movie--there was simply something too contrived about the setup, the need to keep the camera rolling I spite of the danger--always the most distracting element of this genre. So, imagine my surprise at not only sticking with the sequel, but remaining riveted through the film's brisk runtime as it expanded upon the premise of the original while developing a pretty interesting mythology that got beyond the increasingly tired zombie flick.

[REC]2 takes place immediately following the ending of the first film, even calling out the final shots of the original, with it's newswoman heroine being dragged into the darkness by a pursuing zombie. I mentioned having never seen the entirety of the original but this shot was spoiled by the marketing of the remake. Never mind that, though, it gets called out here and the movie makes some clever use of this down the line.

Instead of a group of hapless residents, the protagonists this time are a tactical police unit with murky orders from their superiors to breach the now completely cordoned-off building. Note to all future movie government functionaries: need to know should have a pretty broad definition when it involves possible ancient evil. Those same marching orders include escorting an enigmatic health official with a higher calling to scramble around in the darkness for a cure to ultimate evil.

At it's best, [REC]2 comes off as John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness mashed up with an atmospheric FPS. For some readers the game comparison might spind like a perjorative, but in fact the virtue of the movie (and the best first-person horror films) is in keeping the sight and sound of danger at the periphery of your view. When it does show up in your field of vision, it's typically assaultive, and frankly, freaky. The use of the cameras becomes important in the final act as our heroes encounter things in the dark that can't be seen with the naked eye.

It's a sequel that enlivens two worn-out genres in a way that never overstays its welcome (although I'm dubious about the need for the two upcoming sequels).

The Video

You're not getting razor-sharp visuals here which is just as well since the conceit is that the film takes place through the helmet cams of the cops. While I'm disappointed that the release wasn't in hi-def I can't say that the format upgrade would do much for the intentionally downgraded image.

Special Features

- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Behind the Scene Featurettes
- A Walkthrough of the Set
- [REC] 2 on Tour
- Sitges Film Festival Press Conference

[REC]2 is available on DVD now.

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