Exclusive Review: [REC] 4: APOCALYPSE{0}

Check yourself before you [REC]4 yourself

One hates to simply compare a sequel to its predecessors, mainly because it’s a basic and simplistic way to analyze what should be considered its own movie – but in the case of the [REC] franchise it’s worth noting that the first two films are freaking brilliant, and the third one is an interesting if not entirely successful departure from the established formula, The main problem with [REC] 3 was that it dropped the “found footage” angle that made [REC] and [REC] 2 so vibrant, wild, and unpredictable.

Unfortunately the producers seem intent on steering this series away from the “gimmick” that made it so unique in the first place, and the result is [REC] 4: Apocalypse. That’s not to say it’s a bad horror flick, but if you’re one of the few who was hoping for the return of the first-person perspective, you may be disappointed to learn that [REC] 4 is presented in a traditional narrative style.

And this time we’re on a boat!

To his credit, director/co-writer Jaume Balaguero does a fine job of tying the first three films together simply by dropping some familiar survivors onto the deck of a creepy research vessel. It doesn’t take long before a horrific infection runs rampant across the ship. Our long-suffering heroine Angela (Manuela Velasco) may be carrying the final strain of a virus, which means an evil scientist wants to chop her up, or she may not, which means she’s going to kick a lot of infected ass as she tries to escape her captors.

Also it seems that the [REC] antagonist has gone from a biological threat to a spiritual one before settling on a combination of both: basically we’re dealing with one of those gloopy monsters that climbs inside a human host. So now the [REC] series is stepping into The Hidden/Jason Goes to Hell territory. Suffice to say things get pretty nasty.

Either way it’s all pretty solid “boat horror” material, and certainly a passable 90 minutes for [REC] nuts and horror fans in general. And yet… one cannot help but expect a little more than “passable” and “pretty solid” from a sequel to one (no, two!) of the best horror films of the past 20 years. It’s certainly not fair to judge a Part 4 by how great a Part 2 is (and, to be fair, there are lots of horror franchises that turn into outright junk by Part 4), but [REC] 4 feels like a spec script about a boat full of monsters that got transformed into a [REC] sequel.

Like [REC] 3, this sequel is fitfully creepy, occasionally inspired, and sometimes just sort of silly or predictable – something one shouldn’t expect from a sequel to a masterpiece.