Director – Jaume Balaguero
Cast – Manuela Velasco, Paco Manzanedo, Héctor Colomé, Ismael Fritschi, Críspulo Cabezas, Mariano Venancio, María Alfonsa Rosso, Carlos Zabala, Cristian Aquino, Emilio Buale, Paco Obregón, Javier Laorden, Javier Botet
Release Year – 2015
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Seven years after the first film, REC, stormed the genre with 80 minutes of found-footage excellence, the series has reached its conclusion with REC 4: Apocalypse. The first two entries, which are the best two, were co-directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza. The final two were split, with Plaza helming REC 3: Genesis and Balaguero closing with this installment. While REC 3 was OK and took the story in a different direction, REC 4 is a step above and brings the carnage back to the person who witnessed it firsthand – Angela Vidal. With solid gore, a nowhere to run scenario, and tension that rarely subsides, REC 4: Apocalypse ends the franchise on a positive note.
Television reporter Angela Vidal, the lone survivor of the apartment complex under attack by a mysterious demonic virus, is rescued and taken to an isolated ship to be examined. What was supposed to be a preliminary quarantine turns to chaos when they learn that she unknowingly brought something evil with her.
The story begins with the rescue of Angela Vidal by two officers clearing the building, Guzman and Lucas. Next thing you know, the three of them are on a ship. Unaware of why they are forced to be there, we suffer the same confusion as they do until Dr. Ricarte explains their situation. Anyone who has survived an outbreak has been brought to the ship for containment and will remain there until it can be proven they are not infected. The whole things seems fishy to Guzman, like something else is at hand, and his inhibitions are correct. Deep within the ship there is a medical lab where dangerous experiments are being run. Should things turn sour, there is only one option: blow up the ship and everyone onboard. What the doctors, or even Angela, don’t realize, is something from the apartment came with Angela onboard the ship. While this is of apocalyptic potential, the story pushes it aside for a while and instead focuses on our protagonists surviving an infection outbreak without the use of firearms.
Apocalypse is a misleading word. There is potential for one, as with any fast-replicating virus, but with the location’s solitude the possibility of an apocalypse stemming from what goes on aboard the ship isn’t something you should worry about. The first hint of horror, and something wrong with Angela, occurs about 24 minutes in. Soon after that the outbreaks occurs, and one by one the initial survivors of several outbreaks, including the apartment complex in REC / REC2 and the wedding in REC 3, are now infected. With nowhere to run onboard and surrounded by miles of ocean, the tension is high and it rarely relents.
I was happy to see lots of kills and plenty of gore, keeping in line the most notable elements of the franchise. This is the first installment in the series to have no POV footage whatsoever. It definitely did not hurt the film, but one must note that the two colossal entries in the series were both shot POV, while the lesser efforts are traditional third-person. Nonetheless, the ship location provided lots of sharp corners and plenty of places for the infected to pop out from. The ship is like a maze, and no matter where you go there is always going to be something ready to kill you. I enjoyed the sets used and the extreme majority of the flick took place on an actual ship, with artificial sets employed for stunts and to make room for equipment. The look and mannerisms of the infected were positive, but for some reason they just did not display the same tenacity as those seen in REC / REC 2. I say this is more on the filmmaker and his execution than on the actors, and maybe it even has to do with abandoning the POV format. Regardless, the horror here is cool, but it does not hit as hard as fans of the series will want it to.
Overall, REC 4: Apocalypse improves on its predecessor and ends the series on a positive, but is nowhere near as heavy-hitting as the first two installments. It has action, gore, and everything you’d expect from the series, so give this a watch.