Friday, October 26, 2018

[REC] 4: APOCALYPSE (2014) Blu-ray review

[Rec] 4: Apocalypse (2014) d. Jaume Balaguero (Spain) (95 min)

Angela (Manuela Velasco), our charming heroine reporter from the initial outbreak documented in [Rec]  (and who also put in a surprise final-reel appearance in its 2009 sequel), is rescued from the besieged apartment block by officer Guzman (Paco Manzanedo) whereupon both are quarantined aboard a repurposed oil tanker in order to contain the demonic virus. More importantly, an antivirus has been developed and is ready for testing, but when the test subject (an infected monkey) escapes its cage and bites the crew’s cook, the stage is set for yet another flurry of hyper-furious flesh-munching zombies decimating everything in sight.

After teaming up for the first two installments of the highly successful series, co-directors Paco Plaza and Balaguero decided to divide and conquer, with Plaza tackling the zippy and rewarding prequel [Rec]3 : Genesis solo while Balaguero wrapped up the franchise with this (presumably) concluding chapter. Both also opted to drop the found-footage approach which had characterized the story until that point, which irked some fans, though I appreciated how each director found ways to maintain the POV approach from time to time. (I particularly enjoyed Plaza’s solution to the “Why do they keep filming?” dilemma.)

The problem, if there is one, with Balaguero’s offering is that while it ably continues the plotline begun in 2007 and serves up plenty of frenzied and bloody undead action, it fails to distinguish itself as anything special or unique. Instead, it serves as the very epitome of mercenary, efficient-but-uninspired sequelizing, answering questions no one asked and stretching out a story for the sake of squeezing out a few more bucks.

It’s not that it’s a bad film; on the contrary, it’s highly entertaining with spirited performances, great effects, and several splattery set-pieces, but in the final equation it’s just another zombie movie. ("But it's on a boat!!") From a franchise that began with such promise and innovation, I think we all just expected a little more.

[Rec] 4 is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory as part of their [Rec] Collection, with a making-of featurette and the theatrical trailer the sole extras, and can be ordered HERE:


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