Saturday, 27 February 2010
[Rec.] 2 - Zombie Buggaboo
Three years ago the Spanish gave us a brilliant little horror mockumentary about a TV crew who are making a documentary about fire fighters on the night shift but who end up documenting something all together more terrifying than the usual emergency call outs. No cat stuck up a tree or house fire this. No, this was a viral outbreak in a city apartment block, which rendered its infected victims as homicidal red eyed loons. Very 28 Days Later ala Blair Witch for the Big Brother /reality TV generation. It was in the films closing minutes that the real source of the outbreak was hinted at in a night-vision shot scene as tense and scary as anything ever could be.
[Rec.] 2 picks up directly after the first film ends. We follow a SWAT team, each with their own helmet-mounted cameras, as they enter the quarantined building along with a mysterious new boss on a secret mission to document what happened and find the one remaining blood sample from the original infected person – a young child locked away in darkness. What follows is a claustrophobic, chaotic, intense and bloody flight around the wonderfully dark and labyrinthine corridors, rooms and staircases of the apartment block. Needless to say the ordered plan of the team soon falls apart leading to a desperate fight to survive and to find an answer to the infection before either the building is destroyed or it spreads outside.
[Rec.] 2 is awesome! I loved it just as much as the first one…maybe even more.
It is short, scary and violent and built around one central and brilliant concept, which I won’t reveal here. Just to say it is an original take on several separate horror genres blended together. The film’s main set up is basically the same as Aliens. But then it takes a cool narrative leap halfway through by switching pov to a second group of people who have stumbled in to this apartment block from hell. We first see this second group (kind of) from the pov of the SWAT team earlier, but then the movie switches on us and replays some of the action from the second groups pov before then joining up in to one combined narrative to get to the end.
This film is rushed and panicky and grim and nasty. Which is all to its credit. The pacing is at high speed from the off. Characterisation and thematic depth is non-existent. This is a film about the situation and the concept and scaring you pee-less. Nothing more. It’s a rollercoaster and you ride it through the dark with hissing, screaming monsters clawing at your flesh from all sides. There is some great camera work and direction here. It is all shot from either soldier’s helmet-cams or hand held video cameras or from a TV camera with night-vision. But cameras are dropped or damaged or muted or accidentally switch focus etc. which lends to some wonderfully creative moments and some nightmarish images. We even get a spot of video game first person shooter action, which looks like we’ve entered a Resident Evil game, and it blows the shit out of that awful Doom movie that did the same thing a few years back. Then there is the films location, the apartment block. I just love it. It’s simply one of the scariest places in modern horror cinema. I don’t know if it is real or a set (probably a set) but it is fabulous. The high central staircase is a great feature (great for bodies plummeting down) as are all the many rooms and narrow corridors that seem to lead people in circles. And then there is the penthouse, the centre of hell itself. A dark and filthy place with hidden rooms and ceiling crawlspaces and narrow shafts, which can only be crawled down on your belly. Finally there is the films ending. It’s not as pant wettingly scary as the original but is still a creepy and grim ending in the best traditions of John Carpenter and George A. Romero. It leaves us ready (hopefully) for a third journey in to Spanish hell.
The US remake of [Rec.] called Quarantine was actually pretty good and mostly identical to its original except for a few things – one of which being the key that leads to this wicked sequel. If Hollywood does do Quarantine 2 then it will be interesting to see if they follow this films path or if they do something different. Personally I don’t really care. I just want [Rec.] 3…like now!