[Rec]² (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">[Rec]²</strong> (2009)

(On DVD, March 2012) The original Rec didn’t really need a sequel, but Rec 2 does an interesting job at trying to take the story somewhere unexpected.  Crucially, the claustrophobic found-footage format of the first film is re-created with a few refinements, including three different camera systems.  Much of the story also takes place in the same apartment building, albeit digging deeper in the penthouse-of-horrors where the first film ended. From a cinematographic standpoint, Rec 2 works well in-between the sense of dread, carefully orchestrated direction, occasional moments of shock and gore, and a few innovations in trying to reinvigorate the found-footage premise.  Story wise, unfortunately, Rec 2 often meanders and confuses itself needlessly.  Perhaps the more controversial decision is to shift the mythology of the zombie outbreak into Catholic religious terms –you can almost hear horror fans sputter “Zombies are all right, but just I can’t believe in demonic possession!”  Not that Rec 2 actually sticks to strict exorcism: By the time the movie ends, there are so many loose threads (monsters on the ceiling, flaming blood, visual trickery, body-snatching slugs) that just about any explanation is a good as others. Other elements defy rational explanations, such as inconsistent motivations (even from the monsters) and a weaker second act that sucks some energy out of the picture.  Fortunately, the film is so slickly-made that wobbly story premises don’t hurt it as much as you’d think: Jonathan Mellor turns in a good performance as a mysterious man with the answers, whereas the real star of the film are the two directors (Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, who also wrote and directed the first film) taking care of the mayhem.  Not a bad result, especially for an entirely optional sequel.

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