[REC] 4: Apocalypse (2014)

Whether intended or not [REC] became a film franchise and, being as the first two had Paco Plaza and Jaume Belagueró as directors, they decided to divide the duties when bringing the series to its conclusion.  Plaza went off on a tangent, trying to make a Dead Alive-style horror comedy with [REC] 3: Génesis, and largely coming up empty on both the frights and the laughs.  Belagueró, on the other hand, got the job of bringing things to a close. 

Following what Plaza did in the third movie Belagueró gives us a straightforward story and skips over the found footage angle, except for using Angela Vidal's (Manuela Velasco) recordings as a plot point.  The only reference to Plaza's film is the includsion of Koldo's grandmother (Maria Alfonsa Rosa), an elderly lady with dementia who is the only survivor of the wedding outbreak.  Where the first two did show a lot of innovation, however, this last chapter is basically Alien on a boat with zombies.  

Angela Vidal, the reporter from the first film, is the only uninfected survivor of the apartment building.  She is brought out by Guzmán (Paco Manzanedo) and Lucas (Crispulo Cabezas), two SWAT team members sent into the building to plant charges and destroy it.  They do not know at that point about the parasite that infected Angela, and after completing their mission they are taken to a ship where a scientist named Dr. Ricarte (Héctor Colomé) is experimenting on the virus to find a cure.

With nothing better to do while on radio silence the ship's communication officer Nick (Ismael Fritschi) starts reassembling the information from Angela's camera.  Meanwhile, a host that was infected with the virus escapes containment, spreading it on the ship.  When Dr. Ricarte learns about the parasite he attempts to operate on Angela, only to find that she is no longer carrying it.  While Angela, Nick and some others try to find a way off the ship Dr. Ricarte take desperate measures to ensure the plague spreads no further. 

While it is nice to see the subject matter taken somewhat seriously again Plaza's weird moments - like the firework scene from [REC] 2 - are sorely missed.  If anything the two directors working together both enhanced and tempered various aspects of their story telling, thus creating a balance that is missing in their solo works. 

Although it is, like I said, Alien on a boat, it is in no way a bad Alien knockoff.  It's decently filmed and the cramped quarters of the oil tanker help add to the atmosphere.  Still, for anyone expecting anything near the level of quality of the first two films it is important to keep expectations to a minimum.  While quite a bit better than the third - in fact, this should have been the third - it is still nothing that horror fans haven't seen before.  The feeling seems to have been that they had come this far and just needed to end it and get on to their other projects, so [REC] 4: Apocalypse often feels like a contractual obligation rather than there being any excitement for carrying on the story. 

[REC] 4: Apocalypse (2014)
Time: 95 minutes
Starring: Manuela Velasco, Paco Manzanedo, Ismael Fritschi, Héctor Colomé
Director: Jaume Belagueró



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