[REC]2 DVD Review
Things start well as the film picks up more or less immediately from where the last film left off, with a second crew preparing to enter the quarantined building. There's a sense of integrity in how the two overlap, with the same directing team helping it maintain the look and feel of the original. The second team are a group of SWAT-esque armed police, each equipped with their own helmet-cam. Joining them is a cameraman (to document everything) and the shady Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor). Together they enter the building to ostensibly find a blood sample that will lead to an antidote for the 'virus'. The SWAT guys quickly realise they've been duped, as their mission objectives take a worrying turn and they become trapped in the building with the ravenous, infected tenants on the loose.
In an attempt to branch out from the single-minded narrative of the original, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza this time shoot from a number of different cameras, notably the aforementioned helmet-cams. The effect is at first quite cool in an Aliens kind-of-way, but soon becomes tired and redundant. Ultimately, these video game inflected visuals break the integrity of the mock-doc aesthetic and pull you out of the action just when things get tense. They aren't used in a particularly imaginative way and feel like they're there just for the sake of it. More problematic is the introduction mid-way through of a third party, this time of kids, entering the block, in effect giving us a different perspective on the same events. Again the single point of identification is lost and the visceral thrill of entering the property with a team of which you are part is scuppered. The claustrophobia is diluted and the threat becomes less real, less personal.
The film gradually loses its way and descends into a barrage of running and screaming which, rather than frighten, starts to grate. Part of the problem stems from so much being explained early on. Where the first movie provided little to no explanation for events until the final reel, drip feeding hints and clues that may or may not have relevance throughout, [Rec]2 shoots its load at the start. So too, rather than actually explain very much, it simply raises more questions which are left either unanswered (presumably for [Rec] cubed) or dubiously dealt with in the closing scenes. Which brings me onto the biggest gripe I have with this... Unless I've missed something important, the showdown that concludes the movie features two blatant pieces of goalpost moving that buck the film's own internal logic and come from nowhere. They're presumably designed to be a big reveal extending the scope of the franchise, but really just leave you cheated.
Despite all this [Rec]2 is by no means terrible and the atmosphere from the first movie is carried through with some success. There are some slickly handled jumps and a commendably intense mood throughout. But there's not a single thing that wasn't done better in the first movie, and if anything it sullies the purity of that one's agenda. Arguably it's pointless to criticise a sequel for not being enough like the first, but the simple truth is that it's just not as effective. More characters, more infected people, more cameras, more back story, more exposition... but less fun.
The DVD is fine and provides a great picture and sharp sound. Less impressive is the lack of extras. The deleted and extended really aren't that interesting other than for a passing glance and that's all you get.
The Blu-ray (details below) gets considerably more.
REC 2 (cert. 18) will be released on DVD and Blu-ray by E1 Entertainment on 20th September 2010.