Does the world end with a bang or a whimper?

There’s a funny thing about the last two installments in the [REC] franchise. While the first two films were directed by duo Paco Plaza & Jaume Balagueró – the last two split their talents in half with Plaza directing [REC] 3 and Balagueró directing [REC] 4. This helps explain the vast difference in tone when it comes to the almost comedic third film and makes sense when returning back to the main storyline with [REC] 4.

This film thankfully returns us back to the claustrophobic setting where the franchise seems to thrive. This makes [REC] 4 appear to be a return to form… but sadly Balagueró squanders his setting into a series of dull “fetch quest” type tasks that aren’t very compelling. Leaving something to be desired as the credits begin to roll.

Things start off fine enough though, the film picks up immediately after the events of [REC] 2. Soldiers enter the apartment building and gun down zombies until they finally find Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco). Recalling the good old days of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead opening – a nice humble callback to a classic time in horror, but the good will ends there.

Suddenly we find Angela waking up strapped down in a secret lab that’s on a boat. Quickly meeting the new cast of characters: two soldiers, Guzman (Paco Manzanedo) and Lucas (Crispulo Cabezas), an evil scientist (Héctor Colomé), and a computer whiz Nic (Ismael Fritschi).

Oh we can’t forget the old woman who is the only survivor from the events of [REC 3] – one of the few random and thinly veiled attempts at connecting the third film into the franchise as a whole. Seriously, it almost feels like Balagueró had no idea what the third film was about until he saw it and threw this old bag in as an afterthought.

So where do we go from here? An infected monkey breaks free inside the boat and takes down the chef. This also infects all of the food with zombie blood – triggering all of the action.

At this point the story comes to a standstill, things start to happen but there is no real reason to care – and very little reason to be frightened. Which is a shame, because Balagueró’s tight and controlled direction just begs for the thrills and suspense of the original. It’s just no where to be found.

This takes up a good chunk of the movie, leaving us less scared by the tight quarters of the boat and more seasick. Throw in a few cheesy moments of CGI blood on top of that and you have a film that induces more groans than shocks.

Thankfully the last 15 or 20 minutes really kick into high gear. Suddenly feeling like the confidence, crazed, and scary film we once loved and expected from this franchise. But unfortunately this is too little, too late – and only makes you realize how little you were engaged up until this point.

In the end, this film has moments of inspiration and a few good scares but ultimately disappoints. Perhaps long time fans of the franchise might find some things to like in this final installment, but for many, it’s an apocalypse that they can skip.

Does [REC] 4: Apocalypse Terrorize or Disappoint?
[REC] 4: Apocalypse attempts to return to form but only ends up disappointing until the last 15 minutes.
Rating4.5
Pros
  • Return of Angela Vidal
  • Thrilling finale
Cons
  • Plot stalls
  • Forced inclusion of [REC] 3
  • cheesy CGI
4.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (3 Votes)
88%

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About The Author

Derek normally needs to talk to himself in order to sort out his life. So naturally he likes to write online. He also loves all things horror... but is squeemish around blood in real life. You can also watch him fail at twitter at @doofguy15.