Dir: Jaume BalaguerÃ³, Paco Plaza
Easily bored/excessively nauseous audiences bemoaning the rise of shakycam scary movies were thrown a monster bone with 2007â€™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 canâ€™t count on the person behind the lens making it to the end of the picture) gives returning directors Jaume BalaguerÃ³ 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. Itâ€™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.