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  • Rev Horror

Reel 2

Dir. Chris Good Goodwin (2020)

After being convinced that his first film didn't gain the audience he wanted because he chose a male victim, Slashervictim666 decides to stalk a woman this time around.

Reel was a film that I had heard about forever but I had never been able to track down, and thankfully director Chris Good Goodwin was kind enough to send a screener to check it out. It was a hard film to enjoy, but it was an excellent example of extreme found footage in an era that had mostly given up on such pursuits. It was also a wildly different film in the first half than it was in the second half, with the last fifteen minutes or so being devoted to brutally extreme torture porn that was an incredibly difficult watch. Needless to say, I absolutely had to check out the sequel, which promised even more brutality and inventive murders with the same found footage/mockumentary stylings.

This time around, Slashervictim666 decided to make his victims female because he deduced, after watching yet more YouTube, that the dedication to a male victim in the first film was why he isn't famous yet. Throughout this film, he spends time tracking down new "stars" who appear in his film, stalking and killing victim after victim in an attempt to find the person he wants to be in Reel 2. Along the way, he gathers an assistant named Jane (Stephanie Jaskot), a film school dropout who he is determined to make into a "director" herself. Jane's sister Lena (Octavia Kaliszak) has been trying to track her down, anxious to tell their parents that Jane dropped out of school and has been failing in her scholastic goals. SV666 isn't having any of this, and he eventually captures Lena, her boyfriend Ethan (Michael Lake), and their guitar-playing friend Patton (Tylan Essery) in order to try to make them "reely" famous and achieve SV's Hollywood dreams.

Reel 2 is a very different film from the first, far more dedicated to the torture and murder than the first film, which largely focused upon a single victim. While there is plenty of murder afoot, R2 is similar to the first in that it elevates the violence by quite a bit in the last fifteen or so minutes. There are some inventive scenes of mayhem, including a guitar string kill that could easily come out of Saw. There's also a good bit more blood and gore than in the first film, which is a welcome addition and makes the movie a little more effective than the first one. The sound is also a huge improvement on the first film, as it was often difficult to hear the dialogue over the blaring music, even when the dialogue was an important part of the film.

There are definitely some pieces of the film that don't work, though. The story starts off very strong, and I found myself genuinely caring what happened to SV and his new assistant jane. Unfortunately, the most compelling part of the film is largely abandoned near the end, and we get very little of Jane in the final half hour of the flick. Because we never really see SV, Jane is the biggest link with the audience between both films, and her story is ignored when it should have been the focus. The film also pivots to Jane's boyfriend and friend during this time period as well, the two least interesting characters who we really don't have any reason to have any other emotion towards but annoyance. The ending of the film is also a bit bizarre, which is, I suppose, fitting for a film that was largely jumbled to begin with.

Reel 2 is a film with some issues, but it's also probably a better film than the first one. The characters are a good bit better this time around, and we generally care about them more than the irritating protagonist of the first film. While I feel like R2 could use a bit more editing, especially in the finale, it's a watchable film with some great gore, much better sound design, and some truly brutal torture (as well as a good bit more nudity due to the chosen victims). When you're watching a flick like this, one that aims far more at violence and gore than it does at plot development, you really can't ask for a whole lot more than this. This one won't hit home with the vast majority of audiences, but if you're into this type of extreme found footage, you very well might enjoy yourself a good bit.

Who this movie is for: Found footage superfans, Extreme horror lovers, Wannabe Hollywood directors

Bottom line: Reel 2 is a film that has some issues, but there's a lot to love if you're into extreme found footage films. The violence is on point, especially near the ending, and the off-the-rails finale is a ton of fun. There are also some pretty inventive kills along the way, which are hard to come by in horror in general and indie horror specifically. If you like this kind of film, it will likely be a hit for you, as it has far more plot development and interesting characters than films like August Underground. That's traded for some of the gore, however, as the film never gets as extreme as it would need to do dethrone King Vogel. I definitely appreciated all of the shoutouts to some fantastic horror films of the past, though, and it's pretty clear where this movie's inspiration lies.

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