Power is Ultimate

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I was very much excited to hear that Rec had a sequel to find out how the producers would continue the story intrigued me. Rec greatly symbolized the secrecy of probably every government and the interplay of religion and the government. Yet we see that one institution seems to have the higher power over the other. In this continuation we see even more secrets each institution has kept from the society but we realize that there is one major institution that seems to have the ultimate power over everyone – the Catholic Church. From here we can see how the lack of separation between the church and state can possibly create chaos.

Again we see can the government playing an active role in trying to maintain peace and order. It seems that in order to maintain this order the government does it by hiding information from the society and if people try to find out, freedom of information, they are silenced before they get a chance to speak. Just like how the teenagers snuck in into the building, we see a direct analogy at how freedom of speech is thrown down the drain. This freedom of speech is symbolized with the video camera they held while entering into the building and as we saw in the movie; they were prohibited and scolded for having one. Again we see the desire of control the government and church contain. But this desire for power and control is more evident within the Catholic Church, to the point of lying about the identification of the priest. But this time not only do we see the façade, the government and the church hold, the movie also shows how religion has driven us to just follow without questioning. What we have always known to be familiar has become unfamiliar. The secret world the Church has been hiding is a few only dare to adventure. Again we are placed in the world of the unknown – a place that everyone feels uncomfortable. This is where we see the horror within the film; the secrets, the demons, the lies – the unknown.

Rec 2 was an average film for me, though I was pretty surprised the way the movie ended. I definitely did not expect it. 

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TrainREC

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In my previous blogpost about the first REC film, I wrote about how I have a love-hate relationship with the found footage subgenre of horror films. REC 2, released in 2009, is proof of the fact that there is only so much you can do to a easily-tiring film gimmick before everything turns stale and boring. I think it’s the worst sequel since The Blair Witch 2.

Finishing where the first movie left off, REC 2 finds a team of SWAT members and a medical officer dispatched to the apartment building to control the situation. What they find is are the horrifying remnants of the first movie, and then some. The film tries to explain what happened in the first movie, and that, for me, was what killed the horror. What I loved most about the first movie is the fact that nobody really knew what was happening, or where the virus came from. It plays with man’s fear of the Unknown, and it is this fear that brings about the horror for me. The sequel, however, had us go from a scientific explanation, to a more religious one. Maybe the filmmakers intended it to be a sort of series of twists to keep the action happening, but that certainly killed whatever fear I was having when I saw it. Part of what makes certain horror movies stick and good is the way that they play with the Unknown. Something that is alien to us makes us run like crazy. You never know what is really happening, and you’re never sure if your next course of action would help you or actually kill you. In REC 2, you learn that not all SWAT members are actually adept at gunfiring. Certainly, they don’t seem to know how to shoot these things in the head. Granted, they were taken aback by what they were experiencing, but weren’t they trained for similar situations, anyway? Also, I didn’t understand the way they handled the virus in the movie. Audiences will be left wondering if it ever is indeed a virus, and if so, wouldn’t that make the demon a weak one, because he needed a virus to control other people, instead of just going on an all-out Pazuzu craze on the people inside the apartment? Don’t get me wrong. I love horror movies that deal with religion, but this one just seems too forced. 

However, I liked the idea of switching the perspective of the story from the police to the group of teenagers (who initially seem dumb, but they turn out to be actually dumber). It was the only thing that made me have hope for the movie, but only when it was first introduced. I get the idea of the filmmakers to somehow reintroduce another point of view, but I think that they could have done more with another set of characters, instead of the whiny teenagers. I actually cheered when they died. Really, they were some of the most stupid characters I have ever seen in a horror movie. To me, their characters were, in a way, Americanized (think campy 80’s horror where everyone just gets killed for the purpose of getting killed). Ultimately, the movie was really a letdown for me. I actually found REC 3 better than this one. 

REC IT AGAIN

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Rec 2 was the immediate continuation of Rec 1. I was quite excited on knowing that we are going to watch Rec 2 since I enjoyed watching Rec 1 with all of its shocking parts. Based on my movie experiences, I had watched movies that have their sequel, and I always end up not enjoying watching it because I thought that the original was better but to my surprise, Rec 2 did a pretty good job for staying in line with Rec 1 on how it presented its horror.

 

Unlike Rec 1 with all the interviews to the firefighters, it started off with a group of SWAT and a “Ministry of Health official” entering the apartment and they knew that there really something wrong more than a contagious virus that they first knew of after seeing all the blood stains at the first floor. The SWAT team also had this high technology stuff where all their cameras are synced with each other and the main cameraman can easily switch with different members’ point of view. There were these intense scenes when they have to fight with those people who were infected before the SWAT came inside the apartment. They were able to escape the “zombies” when they entered the penthouse. It was really the intention of “Ministry of health official” to lure them towards the penthouse. The SWAT team accused of the health inspector to be suspicious and they knew that there’s something else other than a virus that the inspector wasn’t telling them. Because before they went to the penthouse, when one of the SWAT team was acting strange, the inspector knew already what to do and reciting prayers and using the cross to control the situation. When the y arrived at the penthouse, the inspector’s secret was revealed that he was actually a priest and all that’s happening was because of a demonic possession. At first, it was hard for the SWAT to believe it because they never knew that such things exist and if it really is true. They felt like they were betrayed and just went on with the mission but of course, due to fear, one hesitated at first but in order to survive, he followed the orders. They needed to get a blood sample of the Madeiros girl who was said to be the start of the possession. They did find the actual blood but it bursted out on flames. They kind of lost their hope because the blood was their only chance for them to find a cure for it but it was gone. The priest had a gut feeling that the Madeiros girl was still alive so they sought her. On their way to looking for the girl, they bumped onto the reporter who at the end of REC 1, we knew that she was taken by the girl. She said she knew where the girl was. But at the end of the movie, it was revealed that the Madeiros girl passed on something with the girl and infected her. All this time, they knew that the reporter was normal but ended up killing them all. It was indeed that the devil was inside her and she also did mimic the priest’s voice to get out of the apartment.

 

In the film, concept of the human gaze was seen. According to Carroll, even if monsters in horror films are visually unappealing, the human has a tendency to gaze upon the unusual. This concept was proven when teenagers broke into the apartment because they were curious on what was happening inside. Also, the camera’s night vision and gaze was important to reveal the things that can’t be seen by the human eye even though there was light.

Rec it one more time

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When it was announced that we were going to watch the sequel of REC, I had some reservations about what it could bring to the table as the first movie effectively established a high standard for its viewers. Although it was clear that the entire story was not explored on the first movie, it could have stood on its own if the Medeiros girl was replaced with a normal zombie that was locked in the apartment penthouse. But since the scenes that featured the newspaper clippings and recordings implied that there was more to the story than meets the eye, this sets the stage for the sequel.

This time around, the characters were not ordinary people but trained soldiers who were armed with guns and high definition cameras. I do not know whether i would be pleased or annoyed with how this second film was shot because it was more stable but priest’s reason for recording did not really convince me and was inconsistent with the secrecy that the Vatican wanted. The priest did not even want the soldiers to know who he is or what they are really going after and did not brief them with what was really going on and yet they brought cameras? I think the producers were now trying too hard to make the movie as “amateurish” as possible that however absurd the reason may be would be good enough. Aside from that, the normally noisy zombie horde on the first film was nowhere to be seen. At various parts of the movie, they would suddenly appear seemingly from their homes and attack to offset the guns the soldiers brought with surprise tactics. It was finally revealed that the Medeiros girl was controlling the infected. They were not zombies but possessed people. This was a big crossover and was a good addition to the film. Like what was discussed in class, the producers were dealing with how to take the movie to the next level because the characters and us, the viewers could never go back to a mundane story after the horrific events of the first film. They had to go deeper to bring a new level of fear. Many films nowadays bring out sequels due to the unexpected success of the first movie but the sequels usually fall flat because the story line was unprepared for a second movie or the writers ran out of ideas and forced out the story in hopes of riding on the first film’s success. REC was planned to have two movies from the start and this paid off. In expanding the story into a case of possession and experimentation by the Vatican, the second film for me, was able to match the success of the first film in terms of the concept and originality. Although the story became more fantastic than I really preferred, it was logical which was what really mattered. REC2 really brought out something new to the dying zombie genre which was good considering the fact that I am a big fan of this genre. 😀

RECing Ball

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Sequels are not particularly interesting to me because more often than not, the movies that have been good enough to merit a sequel are so good that it becomes impossible to outdo in a second movie. Too much of the greatness has been exhausted in the first movie that the subsequent ones tend to fall flat on their faces. So when I found out that we were watching Rec 2, I was not expecting much from it.

I really enjoyed the first one, though. I thought that was the only way mockumentaries should be done. There was so much action and chaos and I could really feel the stress from the characters in the film, and I could really feel my being part of the movie. It was as if revelations about the virus were being revealed to me at the same time that they were being revealed to the people in the movie. That for me was one hell of a movie.

The second one, to my surprise, disappointed me but it was a welcome disappointment. Why, because it disproved my theory about sequels. I used to think that no sequel could outdo its predecessor and REC 2 was proof that that was not always the case. To me, REC 2 was even better than the first. There was more action, the zombies were more ferocious and a whole lot more about the plot was revealed to audience and actor alike.

I thought the zombies in REC were particularly strange. First because they could run. Second because they were unusually hard to kill. And finally, they could talk. As the story went on, I began to think that REC is not just an ordinary zombie movie. It is not entirely sci-fi either. It combines scientific explanations with faith and religion to come up with a demon that is extraordinarily frightening and deadly.

I find it ironic that the movie has this kind of feel because faith and science are two aspects of humanity that are often at odds with each other. Like in the debate about the location of the earth in the universe, religious leaders claim geocentricity while scientists, with their fancy highfaluting equations claim heliocentrism. In the end, science emerges as the victor despite the efforts of the church to curtail the “blasphemies” of these scientists. They do this by executing Galileo Galilei, a mistake that they only admitted to recently.

I always believed that science and faith were never meant to be taken independently. They are a set of eyes that should come together and it is only in doing so that one could see the world more completely and with more depth. It is in finding that elusive middle ground that one could come up with a better understanding of the world that we live in.

I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that faith and science could also come together to form a monster. Truth be told, the Medieros girl in the movie is the daughter of such a coalition. There were scientific experiments done on her that paved the way to her becoming this insane monster that never dies and is just so potent a killer. At the same time, its as if this Frankenstein of a creature was blessed by the devil to become even more menacing. Not only does she spread the virus, she also makes use of them as puppets to further her malicious cause. Defeating such a monster requires an equally integrated understanding to combine a weapon that is both scientific and religious in nature.