Autumn has progressed from a gentle breeze to a howling gale, which increases my desire to take refuge and watch horror films. The sequel to [•REC] seemed appropriate, and I’m glad I watched it so soon after viewing the first film as it works best seen as a double bill.
[•REC]2 literally starts the second the first film finishes, opening with that film’s final shot. Best way to sum this up would be: light on character/strong on narrative momentum. I wouldn’t say it was any better or worse than the first film. The original works its ‘plunged-into-chaos’ angle well with a great deal of screaming and running around. The action is a little more focused this time round, following a small group of SWAT-like soldiers blindly heading into the hell of the infected apartment block. I had thought the action was purely going to be viewed through the helmet-cams of the soldiers, but it turned out one of them was carrying a a big camera anyway, and so some of the realism was lost again with the dumping point occurring fairly early on during some gruesome attacks. There is again a great deal of loud commands to ‘record everything!’ because it’s vital, or something, but it just didn’t strike me as convincing. The first time, at least it’s a news crew so the mantra of ‘record everything’ is more believable. This time it just sounds forced and a lame attempt to cover up the poorly thought out scenario surrounding why people would still be recording anything.
One thing that had not occurred to me until watching this sequel was that the use of camera footage in these films is not meant to be ‘found-footage’ in the traditional sense. They fully intend it to be a visceral, on-the-spot, looking through the camera lens point of view. The audience is the camera quite literally. This is obvious by the use of camcorder battery power symbols flashing up, and in the first film seeing the tape being rewound and reviewed in-film. I like that idea as it reminds me of the way first-person narratives in fiction are treated these days. In the past a first person narrative had to be ‘found-footage’ in a sense, i.e. a journal, or memoir, which often leads to stylistic difficulties as dialogue is still written in the classic way, which is unlikely unless qualified in some way by the narrator. Recently I’ve read more first-person that treats the POV as ‘raw sensory data’, which I like, as it requires fewer rules and regulations. But I digress.
There is a much clearer narrative to this film than the first, and a clever POV switch halfway through gives us the story from different viewpoints. The story does, unfortunately drift into traditional horror movie territory, with demonic possession and people making incredibly stupid choices (let’s follow these men down a sewer into the quarantined building! That’ll be fun!), and rather obvious twists that blunt the ending into a groan-inducing experience. There are some loose ends, which occurred perhaps due to my attention drifting but, without giving away spoilers, what happened to the other two teenagers?
It’s simple fun, with the feel of a relentless, action-packed first-person POV shoot-em-up video game. Thrilling at times. Just dumb in places. I can’t say I’m terribly interested in any more sequels.