A small group of heavily armed men creep cautiously down a dimly lit corridor. The building around them hums a deathly tune, creaking and moaning a cacophonous melody. Suddenly, an unholy screech slices through the room. An indiscernible figure steps into sight, blood and raw flesh smeared around its mouth. The men stand frozen, staring, like deer blinded by the headlights of an oncoming car. A torch is shone in its eyes. It reacts, leaping forward, gnashing and biting, scratching and pummelling. A gunshot rings out through the air and the creature slumps to the floor. A man at the back has recorded it all.
Welcome back to the world of Rec
Set in the same apartment building and immediately following the grim events of the original, Rec 2 throws you right back into the zombie’s den. It follows a small tactical force of unsuspecting police officers as they search for potential survivors. Leading the group is a mysterious government official, complete with a distinguished scar that trails itself across the left side of his face.
Initially claiming to be an agent from the Ministry of Health, this man is clearly not all he seems to be and, soon enough, our suspicions are confirmed.
Loosening the top of his shirt, a priest’s collar is revealed. The presence of such a man in this environment is immediately implicit, taking the story into the eerie world of the supernatural. Yet despite the initial shock and uncertainty that this creates, it is a decision that proves to be an essential asset in further terrifying the audience. And as the priest, solemn in tone and gravel voiced, paraphrases from the book of second Peter in the Old Testament, ‘For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness…’, one cannot help but feel shaken, fearful but utterly elated.
Religion is not new to this world; the penthouse finale in the first film was draped in Catholic imagery. The difference here is that it is developed into an essential plot point, rather than a device merely flirted with in order to generate speculation amongst the audience. It is so far evolved from that of the first film, in fact, that it almost presents a completely separate reality.
However, this potential problem is quickly nipped in the bud as an air of familiarity is mercifully retained.
Back is the shaky cam terror so effectively utilised in Rec. Also returning is the ferocious sound design – a dissonant score synthesised by the groans of the building and the wails of the infected. Both elements have matured but remain gracefully simple in their execution and the combination of the two is, as ever, electrifying.
Equally impressive is the way in which new and old elements are fused with such unwavering confidence. The zombies may have become more mystical than biological, but the viral element is still a crucial part of their tortured existence.
The priest even theorizes that the problem can still be solved on a genetic level and that if he can attain a blood sample from the original carrier, then a natural antidote can be developed.
Rec 2 impresses because of a bold willingness to rewrite its own rules. In doing so, it sweeps the rug from under you feet, leaving you in the dark in regards to what can and will happen. With Rec 3 already announced, only time will tell if Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza can continue to re-invent their world so successfully. Either way, it won’t be long until we take a trip back into hell, which is, truly, an appealing prospect.