However the fact that the original film-makers of [REC] were on board for [REC] 2 and the pre-release blurb had a hint at something a little more original, continuing right from the first, raised the expectations back up.
There was still a concern though. With the new plot came the large possibility that the sequel was going to deliver more of the same, and it seemed difficult to understand what they could possibly do differently.
I actually don't want to give too much of the plot away, because I would like you to discover it as the story unfolds, just as I did, and have that same feeling of surprise at just how well they've created a sequel with a very different story.
The story opens mere moments from where [REC] closed. We join a team of elite police, armed to the teeth and heading to the building in which the events of the first film took place. They arrive and meet with a specialist who is going to take them into the building and ensure that they don't catch the virus inside the building.
As far as everyone knows on the outside the virus is airborne, something the expert reveals to them isn't the case as soon as they are inside. It's not the only revelation he has for them, and for the audience, and very soon we're in a rather different story to the one from the first film.
The rest I would rather you find out by watching the film, let me say though that it is an inspired change of direction in the plot, there's a couple of really strong surprises and it does refresh the entire film. It's inspired and I couldn't imagine a better idea for the new film.
As I've already said with the plot overview, the film has a superb set-up and delivers some great and powerful reveals in the story we thought we knew from the first film. Rather than complete changes of direction they are really fleshing out a pretty standard horror story. Don't take that the wrong way, of course [REC] was a standard horror story when you write it down on paper, but the execution and delivery of the film was superb and pushed it to the very top of its genre.
What the film-makers do with the sequel is take that and build on it. They don't sit with the same idea and redo it bigger and better, they think around it, push the idea forward and imagine what could happen, and at the same time flesh out the core of the plot and give it more depth, giving us more of an explanation and understanding.
I can't tell you how impressed I was with what they've done with the story and how they completely bucked the expected trend of what a horror sequel should be and do.
The horror itself has changed a little too, while there are still shocks and surprises I felt they were much more in the story than in the straight up scare moments. The surprises begin with the story reveals and are cleverly engineered in the story keeping the pace going and the tension increasing. None of the surprises feel too expected and deliver just what you expect, good scares.
However, there are a couple of moments that really don't fit in the film and feel daft more than anything else, perhaps the most awkward fitting is the firework and the infected person, wait till you see that scene, funny yes but it just doesn't fit with the feeling of the film.
Another big stand out moment is when one character is too scared to just shoot an infected person in the head when he was just involved in the most inventive killing. That's something that did irritate a little in the film, the stretching of the moments when an infected person leaps at someone and they scramble to push them away while someone inevitably wields a gun ready to shoot them but for some convoluted reason doesn't, or can't, all the while others shout “shoot, shoot”.
One more moment that sticks in my head is when people are walking into a darkened room and using a torch to see, the light falls on the feet of someone, and they linger the light on the feet of the person rather than just pulling it straight up to the face to see if it's an infected person.
Those moments did get a little annoying and feel a little strange, but didn't go so far as to ruin the film as there is so much more positive to it and by comparison these moments are small.
There's a nice use of the multiple characters and different story lines, especially when they reconnect, I think that this was one of the particular strengths of the film, that drew me into the story, and delivers some great twists and turns all the way through to the end, and that ending is really rather satisfying for fans of the first film and now the sequel.
[REC] 2 does a superb job as a sequel to [REC] and doesn't follow any of the usual expected Hollywood turns, delivering up front some strong changes in the story that give the audience more than enough differences to get hooked into. What's more is that it delivers them really well and builds well on the original idea, expanding it into something meatier, something more dramatic and promising much for a third film.
I really wondered if the film-makers could deliver something as good as the original, and to be honest they've done more than that, they've improved and built on the idea and delivered a scary and exciting film that will have you engaged to the very end and maybe even further.
Strong writing, filming and acting overcome some of the smaller failings of the film and make [REC] 2 a surprisingly stronger second in what now looks to be a very promising trilogy.