I know I've said this before, but "more of the same" is generally not meant as a compliment. Nor should it, really. If, for example, you drop-dead adored the recent Spanish horror pelicula known as [REC], then you'd probably be disappointed if I told you that its quick-arriving sequel is "more of the same." But let's try a culinary analogy: If you ate at a brilliantly cool Spanish restaurant two years ago, maybe you're just plain old happy to go back for more of the same. But then you crack open the menu and realize ... yep, some tasty new ingredients have also been tossed into the pot.
Co-directed by the two guys who delivered the first [REC] (that'd be Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero), [REC] 2 seems fully intent on being an unapologetically slick '80s-style sequel. And by that I mean this: Part 2 picks up 'one second' after the original leaves off, it takes great pains to give its established fans precisely what they want, and then it goes off in a few (very cool) directions that you probably weren't expecting. So, sure, it's not brain surgery, but I say it's always cause for smiles when a horror sequel is delivered with care, craftsmanship, and lots of crazy carnage.
And since there are surprises to be found in Act II and Act III, we'll keep the plot synopsis simple: Remember that creepy, massive apartment building that was invaded by infected zombie freaks who killed everyone in [REC]? OK, good. As [REC] 2 opens, that building is about to be breached by five men: One brave and visibly terrified doctor ... and four no-nonsense, ass-kicking SWAT-style riot officers. As [REC] delivered its action through the lens of a TV reporter's camera, [REC] 2 delivers its payload through use of shoulder-mounted soldier-cams. (Horror geek shorthand: It works just like the soldier-cams in Aliens, only not as choppily.) Turns out that the doctor knows a lot more about the infection that he's letting on, and even after our heroes find themselves helplessly trapped inside the quarantined apartment building, they're simply not allowed to leave until they acquire a sample from ... the penthouse apartment. Yep, that apartment.
But I can already hear the horror hounds howling: "Only four soldiers and a doctor? What kinda body count does that give you?" Fair question. I can tell you that more "uninfected" do enter the picture, eventually, but to explain how and when would, again, ruin some of the fun. In lieu of spoilers I can simply attest that [REC] 2 is just as much dark, creepy fun as the original. Full of well-orchestrated jump scares, a charmingly creepy air of omnipresent dread, and just enough cleverness to pull off the "first-person camera" trick again, this is proof that a "quickie" horror sequel need not be lazy, redundant, or slavishly beholden to its predecessor. I'd call it 65% "more of the same," both in content and in quality, and 35% "new" angles that you may or may not buy into.
Me? I think [REC] 2 is an absolute ball, and a perfect companion piece to the powerfully well-regarded [REC]. If I say I still like Part 1 the best, that's only because it arrived as a wonderful little surprise. The sequel-makers seem to be aware of this pitfall, and their attempts to combine the original template with a few new spices is nothing short of impressive. And I suspect that the horror freaks will agree with me...