Reflex Action

[REC] 2

REC2400
Spanish zombie: pop-out-and-go-boo

Dir: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

Easily bored/excessively nauseous audiences bemoaning the rise of shakycam scary movies were thrown a monster bone with 2007’s [REC], a relentlessly inspired mash-up which successfully married the slow burn hallmarks of the POV genre with the fast twitch scares of more traditional horror. (The American remake/carbon copy Quarantine was not nearly as resonant, despite the presence of an ingenious sequence where the camera itself is used as a bludgeon.) The effective, perhaps not entirely necessary sequel [REC] 2 is clearly following the Alien/Aliens model, ditching much of the Blair Witchian atmospherics in favor of a steady stream of pop-out-and-go-boo shocks. Jacked up as it is, though, it still manages to bring on the goosebumps.

Picking up almost immediately after the first installment, the film follows a small military unit sent into a zombified apartment building looking for survivors, led by a shady Priest with his own reasons for tracking down the originator of the Plague. The presence of multiple protagonists/camera operators (for once, you can’t count on the person behind the lens making it to the end of the picture) gives returning directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza license to strut, and they go all out, particularly in a genuinely panic-inducing setpiece involving a hastily barricaded bathroom. The inclusion of a more overtly supernatural motif may irk some viewers, but it helps set the film apart from the standard post-Romero viral undead fare, giving a nasty undercurrent to the already menacing dark hallways and crawlspaces. It’s difficult to get too hung up on theology when the shocks are delivered with this level of skill.

Copious jump scares aside, [REC] 2 would likely remain a fun but easily shrugged off thriller were it not for the finale, which plays with the concept of reality vs. viewfinder to a level which approaches the rarified dream logic of the best otherworldly horror films. Call it meta or post-modern or whatever, but once this sucker hits nightvision mode, all bets are off.