JULY 12, 2011
Rare are the horror sequels that live up to their originals, and even rarer are the horror films that improve on a second viewing, but [Rec] 2 manages to be both. I saw the film a little over a year ago and enjoyed it, but had some issues and didn’t think it was quite the home run I had heard, but on a second view (coupled with a recent viewing of the original) I found its lapses much less troublesome, and its strong points even more impressive.
I do still think that the “do over” at the halfway point is a bit of a tension breaker, but without it, the film would run the risk of being exhausting by the time it ended, something that didn’t dawn on me at first. As this is a sequel, there is little (no?) need to take time getting to the action, and thus it’s only a few minutes into the movie before we have our first attack, and the action holds up pretty much nonstop until the introduction of the kids (aka the “do over”), which finally gives us a chance to breathe. Sure, it’s always preferable to stick with our heroes instead of introducing more (and a new perspective, always a tricky spot for verite movies), but the alternative would be to have Dr Owen and the SWAT guys just sitting there yammering for a while, OR keep up the action and run the risk of the movie being too much of a good thing by the time the end came around.
Plus it’s always fun to see things from a different perspective, so once the jarring effect has smoothed over (and their annoying prank scene has concluded) and they actually get into the building, it’s a lot of fun finding the little Easter Eggs and such. Again, the last time I hadn’t seen the original for a while (and only once), so now with a couple viewings under my belt (and with less time passed in between) these little moments and tie-ins were more clear/fun. Someday, someone will edit the two films in chronological order, and while it won’t be nearly as successful in the scares department, I am guessing that there will be even more things to pick up on than I’ve already realized (I am actually hoping to do a back to back screening at my favorite place someday...).
And, most importantly, it’s just plain scary/fun. Some of the scares might be a bit easy to call, but most of the jumps work great, and they have a little more fun with the perspective (guy in the bathroom freaking out), allowing for “new” kinds of scares. There’s also a lot with the religious/possession angle, and again, this stuff played better a second time around. I’ve seen a bunch of lousy Exorcist wannabes since then (ahem, Anneliese), so it’s good to see it done mostly right. I still think that they dip a bit TOO closely to Exorcist territory at times; one of the infected/possessed/zombie things looks almost exactly like Regan, for example.
The theatrical/VOD release was via Magnolia/Magnet, but for whatever (likely dull) reason, the DVD is coming from Sony, which means you have to watch a standard def advertisement “showing” you how good Blu-ray looks. Look, can we retire this goddamn thing? If you HAVE a blu-ray, you already know how good it looks, and if you DON’T, then a standard definition trailer for it isn’t going to win you over. This thing should exist exclusively to show on the TVs (on Blu-ray) at Best Buy, not jammed at the top of every Sony disc – especially when it’s on a movie that isn’t available on Blu-ray. It’s like they’re saying that the movie you’re about to watch isn’t as worthy as the ones they’re hawking, like, uh, Grown Ups.
Luckily, this is a stellar looking standard def disc. Obviously the film was shot on HD cameras and is supposed to look a bit rough, but I honestly doubt a Blu would look much better than this; it’s a pretty flawless image, strong with detail and with accurate black levels (the sound mix is pretty great too). And that’s even more surprising when you consider that the bonus material exceeds the length of the film. The big draw is the behind the scenes material, which totals nearly an hour as the creation of three key scenes is covered in detail. One thing I don’t think a lot of people give the makers of these type of movies enough credit for is how much more difficult it is to block out a shot (even more so when you’re trying to make it scary). It’s not like a normal movie where you have the characters in a comfortable/logical place and then figure out where to set the camera – the camera IS a character and thus it has to work as one, as well as making sure all of the information that we need to see is captured in a way that is neither awkward nor obviously staged. It’s an incredibly challenging undertaking, and it’s great to see them work hard at pulling it off. Required viewing for both fans and folks who think that these films are the work of lazy hacks.
The rest of the stuff isn’t as essential, but it’s worth a look all the same (as long as you’re not sick of reading by then – the film does not have a dub track, which is a bit of a bummer as I find the dubs to be better representations of the original dialogue than the subtitles more often than not). There’s a fun press conference from Sitges (loved the explanation for the name “Medeiros”), a walkthrough of the set, some deleted scenes (all with the kids, so no loss there), and a collection of highlights from the cast/crew’s appearances at other festivals, where I learned two things: 1. Manuela Velasco (the first film’s heroine) is a damned beautiful woman, and 2. This movie has taken far too long to hit US shelves, as one of the bits includes someone asking if there will be a Rec 3, to which directors Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero have no response. As we all know (or should!), not only is a Rec 3 already completed, but there’s a 4th on the way as well. I know they “hid” the first [Rec] for a while so they could milk some extra value out of Quarantine, but I don’t get what took this one so long, especially since Quarantine 2 is a completely different story (and not even a found footage movie). However, it was worth the wait, as they have put together a great package and an even better transfer instead of just dumping it like other foreign flicks that gathered dust for a while. Highly recommended.
What say you?