Thursday, April 15, 2010

What I Think Of: [Rec] 2 (2009)

There are some movies that just stay with you years after you first see them, their memories fondly tickling the back of your brain. The memories can be momentary flashes of scenes as you go through your daily life, quotes or sayings that pepper your everyday conversations. Then there are those movies that haunt you, scare the wits out of you, leaving you begging for mercy... or more if that's your preference. 2007's Spanish horror film Rec is one such film that has haunted me, now three years after seeing it (so much better than the far lesser American remake Quarantine). It's images still swim in my head as I remember how great and gruesome the tale was and how a great idea can work wonders even with little money. 2 years later, the original filmmakers, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, got back together to create a sequel to their huge shaky-cam hit. Taking place literally minutes after the end of the first movie, Rec 2 follows a group of soldiers as they try to find out whats happened inside the apartment complex and the truth about the outbreak that has left the apartments inhabitants with uncontrollable rage. I don't want to give much away for those that have not seen the original, but yeah, since the events take place minutes after the first film it is necessary to have seen the original film to fit in all the pieces of the story. Here are some of my initial thoughts while watching Rec 2:

  • My god this is incredible. It's really like Aliens to Alien, a sequel to an amazing film that ends up somehow better and more amazing. This is how you do a horror movie!!
  • On that note, it's sad that foreign films generally do so poorly Stateside. I get that people don't like to read, but it's because of that reasoning that Hollywood keeps remaking every successful foreign film which inevitably pale in comparison.
  • Still on that note, it used to be at least 10 years in a films release before it got remade by Hollywood, now it's more like 6 months before a remake hits. It just leaves me mind numbingly asking, "whats the point?"
  • I love how the filmmakers play with the "shaky-cam" film motifs. Since this one has soldiers in it, each soldier is equipped with their own helmet cam so all their other squadmates can see what they see if they ever split up. You can imagine the kinetic rush and chaos that ensues as they watch their teammates get attacked by the apartment tenants, attempting to rush quickly to try and save them. Scary as all hell and fantastically done.
  • I also love how short the film is (at around 85 minutes) and yet it never feels short. The filmmakers do such a fantastic job telling their story, that it's just so well paced that you get everything you want and more in just 85 minutes.
  • On that note, I like how 1/3rd through the film, the film cuts to a parallel story of three teenagers who end up in the apartment building. So you're watching the same events that occur just from different points of view, until 2/3rds into the film, where the teenagers meet up with the soldiers. So it's like you get two movies in one and it just works brilliantly.
  • I love the while "virus" and how it spreads. It works like a zombie outbreak, through a bite or a scratch, but it's not a zombie outbreak since the infected don't want to eat people. Without giving anything away for those that haven't seen the first film, rather than a "virus", it's more like a "possession" and I love how the film explains things.
  • For a horror film, the plot for Rec 2 is really well scripted. It's engaging, makes complete sense and leaves the viewer thinking of the possibilities, which is amazing since horror films are not generally known for their plots.
  • Seriously, I can not express how awesome this film is. And there's a brilliant cameo 3/4ths into the film that will leave fans of the original applauding as they fall out of their seats with happiness.

It seems like Mexico and Spain is where the great next wave of horror movies are coming from with The Orphan, Fermat's Room and of course every Guillermo Del Toro film and frankly, I could not be happier. Rec 2 is light years ahead of the 20 or so horror films that get released each year here in the States that still follow the J-horror wave that I thought died 5 years ago. Magnolia Pictures (my favorite genre distributor) has bought the rights to release Rec 2 here in the States. It will be getting a limited release this July 2010. Do yourself a favor and see it on the big screen. It's just such a glorious and fulfilling experience, not just for horror fans but for movie fans.

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