||The sequel to the Spanish horror flick “[REC],” which was remade in English as “Quarantine,” offers much the same content as its predecessor, but to decidedly diminishing returns. And it makes the mistake of offering an explanation for all the awful goings-on that’s about as dumb as it could be.
The movie begins precisely where the first one left off, with its final scene of the TV reporter (Manuela Velasco) investigating a quarantined building taken over by rampaging zombies being dragged back into the darkness. Now a squad of SWAT officers enter the place, led by Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor) of the Ministry of Health, who’s supposed to find the source of the contagion that’s taken over the residents. The group wanders through the halls and rooms, its members periodically being picked off by the beasts as the cameras attached to their helmets record the assaults.
What’s revealed as their journey continues is that Dr. Owen isn’t what he originally seemed. He’s a priest, searching for a vial of blood that’s key to a Vatican-approved experiment designed to discover how demonic possession is spread from person to person. And while this group’s trek goes on, they’re joined in the building by a trio of inquisitive teens who’ve sneaked in past the police cordon. They have a video camera, too. Of course the two groups meet up and a few survivors eventually make it to the source of the outbreak.
The scares in “[REC]2” follow a single pattern: an infected resident springs from the shadows and attack one of the interlopers, shrieking; the scuffle goes on for awhile and then subsides as the group moves on to the next encounter. The repetitiveness of it all is tedious, and although at the end there’s an attempt to vary things with a splashy finale, it’s more waterlogged than exciting. And of course room is left for a sequel.
But there’s another problem with “[REC]2,” and that’s the explanation for all the demonic goings-on. The notion of possession passing through blood transmission might have been intended as a commentary of sorts on the spread of infectious diseases, but the addition of the religious motif—and particularly the supposed involvement of the Vatican in the unsavory business of testing the hypothesis and using unsuspecting people as guinea pigs—is jarring. In the post-Franco era Spain has certainly been secularized, but this script is evidence of an anti-Catholic prejudice that’s actually rather shocking.
Otherwise, the picture is fairly efficiently made, in the grubby, “Blair Witch” style of its predecessor. But the acting is pretty bad, with Mellor going so far over the top as the obsessed priest that he becomes almost comical, and the rest of the cast not far behind him in the hysteria department.
After “[REC]” and “Quarantine,” this picture comes off as a mediocre third-generation copy of an idea that wasn’t very new to begin with, and the addition of a supposedly rational explanation to the mix proves more hindrance than help.