Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza's [Rec] was only recently released onto DVD this summer in the U.S., as Sony Screen Gems shelved the movie in order to remake it as the watered-down, and less camera-steady, Quarantine. Only Balagueró has seen it, but found watching the U.S. version so strange he has no opinion of it. That's probably for the best. Instead the two Spanish directors started work on a sequel to their break out hit, which will arrive on DVD in the U.S. courtesy of Sony Home Entertainment.
Plaza described how the two came up with the idea for [Rec] to Fangoria:
I remember we were talking about horror movies, girls, anything. We were both working individual projects that were kind of big, and therefore difficult to find funding for. We both thought it would be great to write a script, film it and release it quickly, just like they used to do in the US in the 50’s. We talked about this and the films that we had liked lately. The idea to make a very small horror film began to whirl in our minds. To make something that was so cheap that no producer would refuse it. A movie that, even if it wasn’t released theatrically, would still be profitable.
We were thinking about movies like Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project, but we wanted to try and make something more involving for the audience - a movie that was even scarier. Then we had the idea to make a TV-style narrative, but in real time. We did this in order to involve the audience in the story. It was just an experiment. It was for our own entertainment. We were really surprised by its success.
The success brought them to [Rec] 2, which takes place 15 minutes after the first, and follows a group of elite soldiers as they enter the "quarantined" building (we had to) to find survivors and get a blood sample from "patient zero" in order to create an antidote. Says Balagueró about the plot:
At the end of the first movie, we suggested some supernatural elements. But, they were only suggestions, or insinuations. We always wanted to explore them in greater detail. The sequel was perfect because we could use it to totally enter and deal with the [Catholic] church and the demonological landscape. We were really, really excited about it.
One model was Aliens. We wanted to be very faithful to the original, but also move forward into a different genre - in this case, have more action and more supernatural events. We also hoped to make it more sophisticated in terms of the narrative and use multiple points of view to tell the story. We wanted it to be similar, but we wanted to put in something new.
Something new and old will be the inclusion of [Rec] lead actress Manuela Velasco, who is famously "killed" in the final shot (repeated exactly for Quarantine). Though how Velasco is brought back isn't completely described by Balagueró:
She was the iconic face of the first one. We found that most people who liked the movie loved her. Her character really got you through the first movie. We decided that it would be very interesting in the sequel to bring back this very familiar character. But not only Velasco, all of the characters from the first movie appear again. Just for a second, or sometimes a minute. I think the impression for audiences is very familiar and adds continuity.
Another way the directors hope to continue their success is by continuing to make he violence of the movie apear as real as possible, as Balagueró explains:
In order to increase the credibility of the movie, we tried to perform the violence as realistically as possible. With the infected Columbian girl, we let her actually be brutal with the other actors. And some of the other actors accepted that. They allowed her to run at them in a very realistic way. Some of them, though not all, accepted that. In some ways they were controlled, but we would have real fights and real attacks. When you do this, it has some risk, but the result is always very realistic.
While the fate of the characters isn't completely sealed in [Rec] 2, Plaza says he won't return for a third [Rec]. Balagueró isn't as sure what the future holds:
I don’t think that I would do it, but there’s only one problem. We said the same thing two years ago when people were asking us about a sequel to [REC]. We said we’d never do it, because we had other ideas. We needed to separate and make personal movies, important movies... but we came up with an idea, and now here we are talking about [REC] 2, and saying [REC] 3 is impossible…
To watch the final (and subtitled) trailer for [Rec] 2, go here.