I'm a huge, huge, ha-yooooooooge fan of [REC] and as the sequel comes from Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, the men behind the first film, I figured it'd be worth getting all tingly about. Turns out, it's definitely worth getting tingly about- but not only tingly! It's also worth getting zesty and twitchy about. I'll put it this way: [REC] 2 kicks so much ass that it kicks all the ass.
Picking up 15 minutes after the events of the first film, [REC] 2 features a SWAT team and a shady government official heading into the quarantined apartment building that's chock full of virus-riddled zombie-types. As they figure out what's going on, we figure out what's going on- that's right, [REC] 2 answers all your questions. What exactly is plaguing these victims? You'll find out. What happened to Angela Vidal, the plucky reporter from the first film? You'll find out. It's, you know, satisfying that way.
It's shot P.O.V.-style, much like [REC]. However, whereas that film was largely one camera and point of view, part 2 mixes it up with SWAT helmet cams, camcorders, and footage from part 1. I was struck by the innovation at work here- I honestly didn't think there was that much more that could be done to make P.O.V. horror feel fresh again, but I guess I was wrong. I hang my head in shame! It may not be quite as scary as the first film- some of the attack sequences get a bit repetitive- but really, that's akin to saying that chocolate chip ice cream isn't quite as awesome as mint chocolate chip ice cream. It's a difference in frights that's barely discernable. If you liked [REC] in the least, there's no reason why you wouldn't like this sequel just as much...unless, perhaps, your brain falls out of your ear hole on your way to the theater. [REC] 2 will get a limited theatrical run next month, so go go go GO. GO.
Writer/director Neil Marshall is a bit of a gift to genre fans. Since 2002's Dog Soldiers, he's developed a resume that finds each film to be more ambitious than the last, particularly in terms of scale. Cast sizes and set pieces in films such as Doomsday and Centurion have increased vastly over earlier efforts such as The Descent, but whether it's got a cast of 6 or 600, each movie still feels distinctively Neil Marshall. He's one of the few modern horror directors who's developing a syle to his work that's deeper than, say, the superficial music video-style editing techniques utilized by so many of his peers. He's more like John Carpenter- no matter the genre of the film, be it post-apocalyptic action, monster-driven horror, or historical thriller, there's a sensibility to his work that's distinctively his own. The fact that he has flitted between genres and varied the scope of his work indicates, to me anyway, a real love of film. It's as if each idea stems from the simple desire to make a movie of a specific type- like, he loves flicks like Mad Max, so he made Doomsday. Maybe I'm projecting because I'm a fan, I don't know...but his work seems to come from a purer, more old-school place than simply jumping into the machine that turns out shit like the Platinum Dunes movies.
Centurion takes us back to the 2nd century as the Romans attempt to conquer all of Britain. Roman soldiers find themselves deep behind enemy lines, pursued by Pict tribesmen who refuse to give up their land. As the number of Romans rapidly decreaes, a small band led by Quintas Dias (Michael Fassbender) attempts to retreat, but they're relentlessly pursued by a group of Pict warriors, including the fierce (and beautiful, duh) tracker Etain (Olga Kurylenko).
The landscapes are both bleak and beautiful, from the misty forests to the frigid mountaintops. Sure, you could create a Centurion drinking game based on the number of sequences where the camera sweeps up and over a vista as a line of people runs across a crest, but it's relentlessly gorgeous so who cares? All the aspects you've come to expect from a Neil Marshall film are here, from the action to the touches of humor to the gore, the blood, the gory blood, and the bloody gore. Centurion is damn entertaining, plain and simple- and yet again, I'm anxiously awaiting Marshall's next effort. Check it out this August. CHECK IT OUT I SAY.