Warning: Beware of plot spoilers!
Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza are back with Rec 2, the sequel to their inventive and terrifying Spanish horror film that was dumped (undeservingly) on DVD by Sony. Premiering to a nearly sold out crowd at the Midnight Madness portion of the TIFF, Rec 2 promised to deliver the same nonstop thrills with a new spin. It did not disappoint.
The sequel begins 15 minutes after the first ends, taking a SWAT team and a doctor into the building that was quarantined. Immediately they learn that the virus is in the blood and not the air, giving them an early (and probably only) sigh of relief.
Without wasting much time, the infected attack, and we’re on our way. While it might sound like a cut and dry sequel, Balaguero and Plaza take cues from classic sequels like Aliens and kick everything up a notch – including the story. We learn early on (in a scene with a bit too much exposition) that what they’re dealing with aren’t zombies, but instead people possessed by a demon (maybe the Devil?). The doctor is actually a priest who is looking for the original blood sample so he can cure possessed blood. There are many references to classic horror cinema that range from The Exorcist to the blood-test scene in The Thing. While the plot makes a major shift, and turns the story completely on its back, the Spanish directors do the same with the filming.
In the first Rec, the duo take the audience on a first-person ride through the terrors of an infected apartment complex. In Rec 2, the SWAT are equipped with cameras on their helmets to help document the events in the building, only they can drop into the feeds from other cameras to see what they’re teammates are up to. So while the audience is outside of a hallway, they can be quickly transported to where all of the action is taking place.
Another turn of events comes when the SWAT team lose their camera feeds and we start the journey over again through a group of kids (earlier spotted in the apartment). My initial reaction was to dislike leaving the action, but the way it all comes back together is brilliant.
While the concept is quite cheesy, Balaguero and Plaza aren’t trying to hide that, in fact, they reference it by having characters question the events that are unfolding. This is where the film works as by having the characters question the situation, it alone adds immediate credibility. The second they establish believability is the second the film becomes scary.
Rec 2 is the only movie in the entire Toronto International Film Festival that left me wanting more. It’s a nonstop rollercoaster ride (yeah, I know that’s cliché, but it’s true!) that grabs the audiences by the throat and never lets go. You breathe when the credits hit and not a single second before. Balaguero and Plaza have delivered a rare sequel gem that can be watched hand-in-hand with the first film, in fact, the running time is so short that you can easily watch ‘em both in one sitting. But let’s be clear, is Rec 2 better than the first? No. Is it as entertaining? Hell yes. Get ready for an onslaught of scares, jumps, gunfire, blood, demons and a few surprises that are sure to have you talking about the film all the way home. It’s a damn shame most of you will only be able to see this on DVD as Rec 2 is a group experience that I feel blessed to have witnessed.