Movies at Midnight was recently given an opportunity to interview Paco Plaza, co-director and writer on REC and REC 2. This is that interview.
Movies at Midnight: REC 2 picks up right after the events in the original REC. Did you have this sequel in mind when you first began working on REC?
Paco Plaza: It was only after the release and success of the first one that we began to think that it was worth developing the cosmology we had created. When we thought about it, we came back to the original to rescue some ideas already planted there, like the demonic possession, that left a lot to explore.
How difficult was it to recreate the exterior shots and the interior of the building to match up to everything that had transpired in REC? Did any of the original cast return to play possessed versions of their characters?
We shot almost everything in the same location, except the penthouse, that we had to rebuild on set because we needed it for FX and so. And yes, all the actors of the original had their zombie cameo, and they had a lot of fun doing it; it was a bizarre reunion of old friends.
The film jumps right into the action, with little character development given to the main protagonists aside from the priest, which is a sharp shift from the development given Angela Vidal’s character and the tenants in the first film. Was this a conscious choice, or a victim of the cutting room floor?
We wanted the film to have the spirit of the Ramones; really fast, strong, a punch… we didn’t want people talking for too long, but something needed to be explained, so we tried to work out the most dynamic way of doing it. That was the biggest challenge. Our model on this was James Cameron’s ALIENS and its turn into action.
REC 2 introduces two groups of people, each with their own camera recording the events unfold. Pablo Rosso returns from the original REC as cinematographer, with Rosso playing a camera-wielding member of the police force entering the building. You also introduce a group of teenagers with a camera. Did Rosso record these scenes as well, or did the teens act as the camera operators for their scenes?
Some of them were shot by the teens; what we did always was ask them to do it in the rehearsals so Pablo could afterward reproduce the way [the teens were] carrying the camera, which was very peculiar and very different from what a pro would do.
THE EXORCIST is arguably one of the greatest American horror films, which of course deals with demonic possession. Did this influence your decision at all to make demonic possession the official root of the outbreak of evil in the film? Did your own religious beliefs affect the direction of the plot?
We both are big fans of THE EXORCIST, I agree it’s one of the best films ever made; we loved the idea of showing our creatures were not zombies, and in the end of REC we had [planted] the idea of a demonic possession happening in Portugal. I’m a practicing Catholic, but Jaume Balaguero is not, and I think the approach to the subject of possession for us was more aesthetic than religious.
REC 2 takes a bold step by exploring the idea of things that truly go bump in the dark. What scares you when the lights go out?
I’m afraid of losing my teeth during my sleep; that I wake up in the morning and have bitten them in dreams and my mouth is full of bone dust from them.
Your REC series has put a spotlight on Spain’s horror film industry. Do you see Spain continuing this trend and possibly becoming the next go-to source for horror cinema, much like Southeast Asia was in the late 1990s through the early 2000s?
That would be great! We have a lot of friends (Juan Antonio Bayona [THE ORPHANAGE], Gonzalo López-Gallego …) shooting great genre films, and I hope this continues for a long time.
Finally, REC 2 leaves the doorway open for another sequel, and according to the IMDB there are not one, but two sequels being worked on: REC Genesis, currently slated for 2011 and REC Apocalypse slated for 2012. Can you give us any hints as to what we might expect?
It’s true. We’re working in 2 more REC films. The first will begin production next November. I will direct Genesis and Jaume will handle Apocalypse; the first is a prequel and the second a sequel, and with them we’ll close the circle.
REC 2 opens with a limited theatrical run in the United States July 9th, and is currently available on Video on Demand.