[Rec] 2 Movie Review: Neighbors From Hell

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While horror movies by necessity feed on the fear of dying, being done to death on screen is another matter entirely. And though directors latch on to sequels just because a movie like [Rec] turned out to be enormously popular, when it comes to risking too much of a good thing while embarking on repeat gore for [Rec] 2, the most unfortunate thing the second time around that may be up for killing, is suspense.

[Rec] 2 hits theaters two years later, but is reportedly a return to the scene of the now newly minted occult crime, a mere fifteen minutes later. And where once this hyper-creepy fare tapped into real audience terror of a spreading incurable virus like AIDS, now the ante is upped to possible demonic possession too. At least according to a seemingly fanatical priest who has joined the invading SWAT team somewhere in urban Spain, disguised as a secretive government official put in charge of the entire operation for some unfathomable reason. And when outed as suspicions loom against him, the crazed cleric proclaims he’s on a dire mission from the Vatican, or even the diety himself.

While crosses, cameras and machine guns compete as weaponry for audience attention, cops and kid cinematographers infiltrating the sealed off apartment building are mauled in fretting and agonizingly slo-mo succession by the biting resident zombies. And dispatched to the afterlife by the mouthful, without benefit of body bags. Meanwhile, there’s a possible low IQ demon squatter who had no problem sneaking into the premises by supernatural means, but takes a full length feature film trying to figure out how to exit the building.

Suspiciously more than mere borrowing from The Exorcist and The Da Vince Code and directed by two filmmakers (Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza) with scripting by at least three writers, [Rec] 2 is nearly as crowded with narrative masterminds as the doomed interior is with neighbors from hell, quite possibly literally and otherwise. And though fascinating sinister concepts loom, such as the desperate urge to save humankind from future apocalyptic extinction that may inconvenience if not totally freak out fiercely resistant individuals in the here and now – not to mention Spain’s longstanding issues with an intermittently violent government itself into extermination, along with an intrusive and oppressive Catholic Church on the national premises – intriguing ideas tend to get lost in all the idiotic endless indoor mayhem.

The Verdict: If [Rec] is somehow Spanish for ‘Wreck’, I’m with you on this one.

Magnet Release

Rated R

2 [out of 4] stars

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.