Considering how impressive the [Rec] franchise has been so far, Rec 4: Apocalypse comes as an unfortunate disappointment. Ditching the found footage origins of the franchise (for the second time), Apocalypse finds it difficult to create an experience as terrifying as the first two, or as peculiar as the third.
Picking up exactly where [Rec] 2 left off, Angela Vidal (the superb Manuela Velascoe) is rescued from the doomed apartment where it all began. Waking on board a tanker ship in the middle of the ocean, Vidal comes to terms with just how dangerous the unknown virus is.
The ship is a great set, but proves less iconic than the infamous stairwell of the apartment. The tight claustrophobic corridors of the tanker’s in
sides should be ample ground for a few good scares but they all seem to be relegated to the tiny monitor of a surveillance cam or, worse, off-screen. Velascoe kicks into gear as action horror heroin, but it comes too little too late. A shame because her performance has been a key component in the success of the franchise. Special mention goes to the late great Hector Colome for a charismatic turn as Dr. Ricarte, easily one of the most enjoyable parts of the Rec 4: Apocalypse.
Choosing to ditch Angela’s turn to the dark side at the climax of [Rec 2], Apocalypse seems unsure of where to go next. Paco Plaza’s Army of Darkness style adventure Genesis was the perfect solution to the heavy horror of the first two, but proves a hard act to follow for Jaume’s return. But maybe that’s the essence of the horror franchise: fourth instalments are rarely great, and usually mark the point where money and fan desire over-ride solid storytelling.
[Rec]’s bizarre mythology has been drip-fed to us thus far, each film playing around with the tone and scope of the infection, yet Apocalypse feels like a step backwards. The scares are bafflingly lacking, when a return to more intimate surrounds should have been a sure-fire way to ramp up the terror. Jaume’s return marks the apparent end of the franchise, though its silly final scenes hint at the kind of ludicrous behaviour I would have sooner lauded than this relatively safe affair.
[Rec] 4: Apocalypse is pretty dull, all things considered. An action element proves poor substitute for the genuine chills and thrills presented thus far in the franchise.
Dir: Jaume Belaguero
Stars: Manuela Velasco, Paco Manzanedo, Hector Colome