This review will contain spoilers for the original film, but not this sequel. It is recommended you watch the original film before considering to watch the sequel, or read this review.
[REC]2 is the direct sequel to the original camcorder Spanish horror film. In quite possibly one of the shortest time lapses between films (this takes place 15 minutes after the end of the original), we follow a SWAT team who are aiding a doctor on a secret mission into the Apartment Complex from the first film. They quickly learn what’s going on isn’t simply an infection as they believed, and just as quickly find themselves in a nightmare where they must risk their lives to stop a potential outbreak from happening. It should be noted you should definitely watch the original movie before jumping into the sequel.
[REC]2 doesn’t take long to reintroduce itself, as well as some new elements it’s bringing to the table. Within the first 15 minutes we are introduced to what is quite possibly the strongest new element to both the film and the franchise’s lore, but also the hardest bit to swallow; at least at first. Demons. While this was somewhat hinted towards the end of the original movie, this film dives head-first into the matter. The original “[REC]” was much more of a zombie flick, while this sequel get’s into some religious affairs about angels and demons, and shows some obvious inspirations from the title, “The Exorcist.” At first this whole element feels very awkward. The original [REC] only touched on things such as possession and demons, but it felt pretty well-grounded in reality (well, as far as a zombie flick could be). This sequel completely breaks that though, making the setting much more fantasy. This was intentional by the creators, but still feels like a bit of an awkward transition of genres. Still, throughout the film I found myself being more and more accepting of this plot element, and in the later half of the film, the element is used in such a way to actually make it quite likable and brings some of the best twists the movie has.
Even with the strange new plot elements, the film still feels very much in spirit with the original. It continues to have fantastic presentation, good acting, great atmosphere, and actually carries a stronger and slightly more original plot than the first movie. There even is quite a bit of fan service to the original, as the apartment complex is left exactly how it was when we left off. The sense of mystery is lost though. The original film dwelled very much on the, “less is more,” philosophy. This movie really cracks down and explains what is going on, and unfortunately by human nature the known is usually less terrifying than the unknown. And yes, this movie is less scary than the original as well. Not saying it’s completely lacking, but the scares in this film feel much more ‘to the book’ this time and are much more predictable. Some are very well executed, but in terms of scares, the movie feels a lot less intelligent. The atmosphere still holds strong though, and the more frantic pace of some of the scenes in the film have a certain intensity that is very easy to get sucked into. There also are some deliciously creepy moments and unexpected twists that keep you on your toes.
Besides Demons, the newest element to the film from a fundamental perspective is watching the story unfold from several different lenses. The movie switches viewpoints about three times through it’s running course, following two different groups of people as they experience what’s going on inside the apartment complex. The first time this happens it can be a bit disorienting, but once you understand what’s going on it is a rather interesting element. The problem is that the second grouping is consisted of mostly annoying characters (especially a kid who wants to show off a little to much) and it’s hard to actually care about what happens to them. They do get less annoying when they throw off the attitudes inside the apartment out of fear, but I still found most of them hard to sympathise with.
[REC]2 improves and fails in comparison to some areas of the original. The first fourth of the movie is a bit slow and awkward, but when things get going they hold up pretty strong, and the last third is pretty great. The movie manages to also feel more natural and less like a roller-coaster than [REC], and is a fantastic popcorn flick, but not to the extent of the first one. The problem with the movie comes from the fact that it pales in comparison to the original. It’s still a very enjoyable film, but it loses some of the charm and much of the mystery of the original, even if it brings with it a stronger plot and some very engrossing scenes. If you enjoyed the original you will probably enjoy this film, though it can be a bit harder to swallow.