Monday, January 04, 2010

Slight Return

I took the MTR home today, getting as far as the labyrinthine corridors beneath Causeway Bay before pummelling my way through the hordes and rising, blinking like a bipedal mole, up from the depths. As I travelled through the crowds, I caught sight of an advertisement for Rec 2, the sequel to Rec.

I enjoyed Rec a lot, although I remember not being able to suspend my disbelief for the first half hour or so. That might sound strange for a movie that gradually has more and more rabid Spanish zombies running amok, but all I kept thinking was "that's a clever use of budget" - the particular location and set-up of the film meant that there was not (apparently) a need for expensive sets or special effects, or for crowds of extras. Once I'd got past that, I could settle down with the gruesome plot.

There was an American remake called Quarantine that I didn't like the sound of; there are enough perfectly good American zombie films without them going around stealing the European ones. Plus it appeared they'd ditched some of the supernatural elements in favour of there being a virus. Dammit, if the zombies are animated by some sort of evil force, that's what I want, not somebody mucking about with mitochondria or other scientific bobbins.

Whether the sequel will be any good or not, I'm placed into a quandary. Do I watch it at the cinema or not?

The trouble is two-fold. Not only is there the temptation of purchasing a hooky DVD from Shenzhen for less than one-sixth of the price of a cinema ticket, but there's also the plain fact that my girlfriend doesn't like watching zombie films. Try as I might to say that the zombies in 28 Weeks Later aren't zombies, they've got the Rage, she won't buy it. (And nor should she; despite what anyone might say, if it shambles* like a zombie and wants to rend your flesh like a zombie and quacks like a zombie ... it's a zombie. Duck.) These two factors should balance one another out, and I should be left to contemplate whether the sequel could ever make sense, or if it just seems like a terrible, terrible idea. I prefer 28 Weeks Later to 28 Days Later (I probably prefer 28 Days to 28 Days Later, and if I like a Sandra Bullock vehicle more than a zombie movie, something is up) so sequels in and of themselves aren't bad things, but really... what would be the point of Rec 2?

Still, I'm drawn to discovering what it could be, although I'm not going to read up on it on Wikipedia for oooh, at least another five minutes. But it's like this: I don't believe Rec or Rec 2 will work as well in a cinema, if the format is unchanged. I watched Paranormal Activity a few weeks ago on a shady download, in my own apartment on my own, and it creeped me out. More than its effects budget could have done, because the filmmaker couldn't supply the shadow of the people in the flat over the way moving around, or imagined shapes around my kitchen sink, or any of the other things that become curiously terrifying at three-o'clock in the morning. Watching the same images on a large screen, where you're deprived of your peripheral vision trying to sneak things up on you, and more importantly robbed of the possibility that this is just a grainy video that you've found by mistake in a drawer in somebody else's home, makes the illusion more suspect, makes it clearer that you're just watching something somebody made.

Which, I suppose, is an argument for preferring snuff movies to Hollywood, but perhaps that's going too far. I mean, I watched 8mm, but that doesn't mean I want to be Nicholas Cage. I suppose that in the interests of maintaining a happy girlfriend, zombie movies will have to be, like eating Marmite, something I only do when she's not around.

* Or runs, like the modern day zombies from Dawn of the Dead. And no, that wasn't a travesty of the original, it was actually quite good. Believe me, I remember the hours I lost as a teenager watching Romero's Dawn of the Dead, and to my maturer mind, the Zack Snyder version is still superior.


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