Horror movies rely on the element of surprise to get beneath our skin and to leave us cowering in the dark of the cinema theatre. It’s little wonder that bloodthirsty sequels often fail to recapture the nail-biting tension and uncertainty of the original. Thankfully, every once in a while, a horror sequel bucks the depressing downward trend. Set shortly after the events of Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza’s nerve-shredding 2007 film, [Rec] 2 slyly uses the locations, characters and storyline from the first film as a solid foundation for a second hellish journey into a Barcelona apartment block, where a viral outbreak has apparently transformed the residents into flesh-crazed killers.
Smile for the camera
This time around, authorities have lost contact with the people trapped inside the building and a SWAT team has been drafted in to investigate. We watch the nervous approach to the building through the men’s helmet-mounted cameras, providing multiple perspectives on the nightmarish scenario. Jefe (Oscar Sanchez Zafra) and his team – comprising Larra (Ariel Casas), Martos (Alejandro Casaseca) and Rosso (Pablo Rosso) – enter the apartment, accompanied by Dr Owen (Jonathan Mellor) from the Ministry of Health. “We must reach the penthouse. We think the infestation started there,” instructs the steely-nerved medic, who clearly knows more than he is letting on. The SWAT team gradually ascends the central staircase, which is slathered in blood and entrails, sensing that the supposed viral outbreak is something far worse. “It seems as if we’re not alone,” whispers one of the men. Then the gunfire and bloodletting begins…
Nowhere to turn
[Rec] 2 exploits the multi camera angles method to devastating effect, forcing the members of the SWAT team to split up and fend off the carnivorous residents in different parts of the building. Balaguero and Plaza initially use picture-within-picture to show simultaneous images from the different cameras, but once the characters are racing for their lives in the quarantined apartments, they simply cut back and forth between parallel storylines.
The directors orchestrate some terrific set pieces, including a nervous crawl through a ventilation duct, set to the increasingly heavy breathing of the SWAT member. The plot slowly relinquishes its light grasp on plausibility and veers into the realms of the absurd for the finale as Dr Owen’s ulterior motives are revealed and the gun-toting interlopers discover a terrifying secret about the night vision on their helmets. Terrifying stuff with a refreshing minty edge. [rec] fans, you won’t be disappointed.