[Rec] 4 Apocalypse returns to familiar shores but bloodily sinks mid-route. Balagueró returns to direct, Velasco is back to finish business and no more wedding shenanigans. This was poised to be a claustrophobic restoration of a series that commenced with one heck of a statement. The original [Rec] is one of the finest horror exports ever conceived. Its sequels on the other hand, not so much. Alas, after the continuity shattering third instalment, this final entry (apparently...) was the one to infect us all ferociously. Yeah, it’s not. In fact, it’s easily the weakest chapter yet, and another clear reason why this franchise should be shot in the head and severed by an outboard motor. After the apartment was quarantined, news reporter Ángela is rescued and escorted to a remote facility in the middle of an ocean, only to find that an infected test subject has escaped and is chomping on all the passengers.
Ensue carnage as the small crew of survivors literally scream, stare and flee from the oncoming disease. Now, as much as I scorned the religious flair of the “infection’s” origins, it did hold some originality and thematic grip. Seems as though Balagueró, aside from presenting some archival footage of an exceedingly greater entry, forgot about the possession mumbo-jumbo and wait straight for a parasitical presence instead, essentially tarnishing the purpose of the previous entries. Honestly, I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but continuity is the most crucial element to any franchise. Period! Never mind the CGI monkeys, self-destruct sequence and infected growls that resemble stock sound effects of a grizzly bear. It’s deemed pointless if the film fails to continue with its over-arcing premise. What made [Rec] the unique “zombie” horror that it was, has now dissipated by becoming as generic as any other entry in the sub-genre.
It’s not just the plot though. The found footage style has been swapped out for a basic inexpensive aesthetic that unveils more budgetary weaknesses than anything else. Why? It’s called [Rec] for a reason! The characters were stupid. The acting was mediocre. The frenetic editing meant audiences couldn’t see anything. The dim lighting didn’t assist in that department either. Oh, and the horror was non-existent. Gone are the days of claustrophobic apartment hallways where every turn could result in a nasty bite.
It’s not all terrible. I will say that the character of Nic was incredibly likeable and really was the true hero of this story. Anyone who can pretend to hack into security cameras with just a few keyboard presses deserves to have their time in the spotlight. And the prosthetic gore, which easily could’ve been visualised, showcased excellent makeup work so I appreciate the authenticity.
Still, it deviates so far left from the original premise that it’s essentially its own film entirely. The new direction doesn’t work for me, and prepare yourselves for a fifth entry that involves a fish. Watch this space. It’s going to happen. Now, “vamos!”