Rec 2 is the sequel to the much-lauded [Rec] which also features in my Halloween list and my ultimate guide to horror. The sequel is an adequate follow-up to the original, but it lacks the punch the first one had. There is a shift in focus, that although present in the first film, feels half-hearted in the second.
Rec 2 follows immediately after the ending of the first [Rec], therefore watching the original is required viewing. Due to the nature of the sequel, spoilers for the first film cannot be avoided.
In the sequel, we are following a special ops team that is led by Dr Owen, an official from the ministry of health. They are protecting the doctor so that he can obtain a blood sample from the girl Medeiros so that they can develop an antidote to this plague that is infecting the residents of this apartment building.
Soon after entering the building and reaching the top floor, the team is set upon by zombie-like creatures who attack and separate the team. After escaping the monstrous clutches with many costs, they realise that some people are still alive and unchanged in the building. But not everything is as clear cut as it seems and there are secrets amongst the terrors of the night.
At the end of the first film, we discover that the virus might not only be a deadly contagion but also might be related to demonic possession. Though before we dig any deeper, the remaining survivors are dragged into the darkness. Rec 2 delves even deeper into this theory, with the demon featuring heavily in the story. Even though this makes sense with the [Rec] ending, as the cat is out of the bag already, there is not a lot to chew on in this sequel.
In some ways, this demon vs humanity angle feels at times rather ridiculous. Rather than raising the stakes as they intended, it just made the threat of the infected humans lesser. Even though as far as makeup and effects, all the infected or possessed were still terrifying as hell.
On the other side, we have the SWAT team who are as composed as normal civilians. Prepared to fight the infected humans, all of it becomes a bit too much when they realise demonic possession is at play. They can’t help but scream, shout and pain in alarming frequency throughout. Which might have been tolerable, if any of the team members were given any character development beyond tough-guy exteriors.
This does also apply to pretty much the rest of the characters in this. Who, unlike the Doctor who has more of a vested role in it, are just fodder for all the monsters. Some are given a little bit of story before they appear on screen, but mostly whatever is shown does nothing to make the audience feel connected to any of them. They aren’t bad characters, just two dimensional and lacking any personality, that just as they are viciously attacked you would have already forgotten they were ever in Rec 2.
Much of the first film was so effective due to the one camera showing all the scenes and horrors in [Rec]. But in Rec 2, although they keep the found footage perspective, the tension is undercut by switching between several different viewpoints throughout. What [Rec] did was make you unflinchingly watch the horrors to befall the characters reminiscent of Blair Witch. This is what made [Rec] so enjoyable and scary to behold. With these quick cuts to other viewpoints, the impact of everything is diminished.
That is what makes Rec 2 so hard to like, all the things that the original had going for it, are missing from this. If this wasn’t named Rec 2, it could just fall into the mishmash of found footage films that come out every year, leaving no impression at all for people to talk about. Though the [Rec] obviously had some influences from other known and loved horrors, it felt like it was offering a new perspective, rather than trying to replicate the formula. Rec 2 throws all that out the window and we have the Exorcist, Poltergeist and Alien just slammed into our faces.
But this could have all been by the by if it had managed to be scary despite that. But unfortunately, this cardboard movie just grates on the nerves ever so slightly that you spend less time being shocked or scared than just frustrated by it all. Setting it in the same apartment building makes sense for the timeline they are following in Rec 2, leaving little room to be surprised by all of it. You end up feeling like you are just watching a rehash of the original movie, without the omnipresent dread, as you have seen it all before.
Rec 2 is an adequate movie, but for the potential this series has, this movie seems like a grand disappointment.
Rec 2 is available to stream on Shudder now.