You’re courting heartbreak when your expectation for a movie sequel is for it to hit the nail on the head in the same manor as the original. It’s almost a built in impossibility, if it were easy to capture lightning in a jar, the films they were sequel-izing wouldn’t have been so special in the first place. Two of the last decades strongest, most competent horror flicks [REC] and THE DESCENT have sprouted highly anticipated continuations. Both take off just where their predecessor landed, both expose a startling development (the same development actually) and both falter in capitalizing on that development’s full potential. I can’t say either film is without entertainment value, they both keep your attention and deliver at least a few good gotcha moments, but (don’t kill the messenger!) these two comrades in the art of diminishing returns are likely to leave fans longing for their original’s sting. In my opinion, [REC] 2 fares better than THE DESCENT: PART 2 due to that fact that even though it sometimes feels like a diluted shadow of its former self, it’s at least never outright boneheaded.
Directors JUAME BALAGUERO and PACO PLAZA who delivered the first [REC] are no slouches; they know exactly what they’re doing and exactly how to make you squirm. In this installment we follow a SWAT team and a priest who have entered the infested, quarantined apartment building from the first film. As this is our second venture into the address, we’re admittedly signing up to learn more. Unfortunately a lot of the first film’s strength was derived from our confusion, we’re braced this time and have an inkling of what to expect. The original [REC] only implied an evasive supernatural cause to the horror but now those muddied waters clear. I can’t say that [REC] 2 isn’t riveting and frenetic but with its leaning more toward action oriented tropes and its more focused view of the situation, it kind of looses the peaking through a keyhole into hell aspect that packed the original’s cinder block fist.
We end up with a sort of well oiled, modern retelling of LAMBERTO BAVA’s DEMONS 2, which is not a bad thing at all, just don’t expect to pee your pants. I don’t know, maybe this film’s biggest crime is just being second in the series. The bottom line is, the first [REC] haunted the hell out of me where this sequel works merely as a reasonably thrilling jaunt. Maybe I should be thankful.
So what’s THE DESCENT: PART 2’s excuse? The filmmakers were able to bring back SHAUNA MACDONALD who was so good in the first movie, they were able to impressively duplicate the look of that film from its rolling forests to its claustrophobic caverns and yet nobody thought it might be a good idea to double check the script? I just want to grab a big red pen and cross out most of what is done here story wise. Somehow I was able to FORCE myself to swallow the set-up, which involves the police dragging a heavily medicated trauma patient from her hospital bed and back to the location of her ordeal, I felt I owed the first movie that much. Little did I know that was merely the idiot appetizer of a four-course moron meal and a dumb as dirt dessert.
I don’t want to spoil anything, this movie needs all the help it can get but if you’ve seen it already, can I just say that the sloppy, obvious bit with the handcuffs infuriated me? What a ridiculously blaring set up for a lazy, not worth it pay off. Truly, I’m insulted. There’s a lagging, lackluster effort to conceive an emotional aerial view martyr death finale (ala ALIEN 3) but I felt so mishandled by that point that it came off like an awkward pass from someone who should just go to bed. Ugh and ugh and furthermore, UGH!!!
O.K. I admit, I jumped a couple times but I expected more for this series. I feel like I just married off my favorite daughter to the most feeble-minded dolt in town. Worse still is the epilogue, which I can only describe as a cinematic Dirty Sanchez.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t see these two films, REC 2 is pretty good, it’s just not possessed by Satan himself like the first one was and THE DESCENT 2 is kind of fun in a ditzy straight to DVD piece of utter crap sort of way. Just keep your expectations low (in DESCENT 2’s case VERY low, as in place the limbo pole on the floor) and remember your Unk warned you. Meanwhile, I’ll still be wondering why the female mole person in THE DESCENT: PART 2 (or “crawler”, who really cares anymore?) has long hair. Seriously, I’m surprised they didn’t put a little red bow in it.