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[Rec] 4: Apocalypse (2014)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 4/14/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/11/2015; Updated 9/20/2018
Roger Ebert may be the only film critic to have become a household name and at the height of his career, he was everywhere. But, I was there at the beginning, watching Ebert and his partner Gene Siskel on their PBS series Sneak Previews. Of the two, I always preferred Ebert, and not just because he would be give genre films a fair chance. Siskel had a bad habit of reviewing the movie which he wanted to see, as opposed to the movie as it was. He would say things like "They should have done this..." or "Why didn't they do that..." and seemingly ignore the real movie. As much as I disliked this approach, I have been guilty of it myself. That certainly occurred while I was watching [Rec] 4: Apocalypse.
[Rec] 4: Apocalypse follows the events of[Rec] and [Rec] 2 in which an apartment building was sealed off by the government due to the virus running wild inside. Those exposed to virus would become very violent and out of control. Angela (Manuela Velasco), a reporter, had followed a group of firefighters into the building and found herself facing the "patient zero". Meanwhile, a group of soldiers infiltrated the building and rescued Angela. As the new story opens, Angela finds herself aboard a ship which is being overseen by Dr. Ricarte (Hector Colome), who is researching the virus. Angela meets Guzman (Paco Manzanedo) and Lucas (Crispulo Cabezas), the two soldiers who rescued her, also on-board the ship. When it becomes clear that Dr. Ricarte has lost control of the situation, Guzman enlists the ship's technical officer, Nick (Ismael Fritschi), to help find a means for getting off of the ship. But, if they escape, will the virus escape as well?
(SPOILER WARNING!: The following rant reveals plot points from [Rec] and [Rec 4].) If you've seen [Rec], then you know that by far the creepiest part of that film was the skinny thing that Angela encountered in the attic. That horrific monster, which hunts in total darkness with a hammer, was the stuff of nightmares. (My wife still thinks of it when she has to get up in the night.) It wasn't featured in [Rec] 2 or[Rec]³ Genesis, save for flashbacks, but that's OK, as I was confident that the creature would make its triumphant return in [Rec] 4: Apocalypse. And, for a while, my hopes remained high, as it's revealed that something is locked in the hold of the ship. Well, it's not the creature. In fact, it doesn't appear in the film. What a waste! Was it simply too obvious to have Angela square off against the monster on neutral ground? Or to have it running amok on the ship? I guess so, but what we get (more on that in a moment) is certainly a disappointment. My expectation was that this film, which is the reported conclusion of the series, would want to go out strong, but I was very wrong. (END SPOILER WARNING!)
It's clear that with [Rec] 4: Apocalypse, series co-creator Jaume Balaguero, who directs and co-writes here, had a choice -- Give the audience more of the same, or try something different. Unfortunately, he opted for the former. This is essentially a remake of the first movie, but instead of being trapped in an apartment building, the group is trapped on a boat. Yes, we get the inclusion of scientists who are attempting to understand the virus, but they don't do anything particularly special -- they are simply potential victims just like everyone else. So, here we have yet another movie where the characters run up and down hallways closing door and hiding as they attempt to avoid the infected. The only difference here is that some non-human predators are introduced, but they aren't very effective. The religious angle which was introduced in [Rec] 2, and which made that movie so unique, is more or less dropped here, and the virus is described as simply being something organic. So, instead of a new chapter in the series, we get the same old stuff.
The end result with [Rec] 4: Apocalypse is a movie which offers some solid jump scares and the same sort of frenetic action seen in the first two films, but the lack of anything new or original really hurts the movie. It's refreshing that Balaguero has opted to shoot this as a straight-forward narrative, as opposed to a found-footage film, as with the first two films in the series, but this only makes a minor difference. [Rec] 4: Apocalypse really had a chance to mix the ideas of the first three films into a completely over-the-top experience, but instead we get rather bland victims trapped on a boat (which felt to me like it was lifting ideas from some of the Resident Evil games). This is a competently made film and pretty than many of its peers, but it's a not a fitting ending to a series which began with one of the best horror films of the past decade.
[Rec] 4: Apocalypse didn't even have the decency to have a solid coda on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly bright or dark, despite the fact that this is a dark movie. The level of detail is good and the image is never soft. The depth is about what one would expect from a DVD. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track does a great job of delivering the sounds of the ship, as the stereo and surround effects are very active. The stereo effects show good separation and the rear channels bring us some individual sounds. The subwoofer jumps in with wall-shaking bass during the action scenes.
The lone extra on the [Rec] 4: Apocalypse DVD is "Rec 4: Making Of" (28 minutes). This includes an extensive amount of on-location footage, as we are taken aboard the industrial ship where much of the film was shot. The piece involves a great deal of "fly on the wall" footage where we get to see key scenes being shot. In addition, we get interviews with Director Jaume Balaguero and some comments from star Manuela Velasco. We also get a look at the special effects makeup.
On September 25, 2018, Shout! Factory released [Rec] 4: Apocalypse on Blu-ray Disc, as part of the [Rec] Collection. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The transfer does a great job with depth, especially in the shots which take place within the ship's narrow corridors. The level of detail is also impressive. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This track really emphasizes the amount of sounds coming from all around the ship, as highlighted by the detailed surround effects. These effects flow smoothly into the front channels, placing us in the action. The subwoofer effects deliver a satisfying bass accompaniment to the ship's engines.
The [Rec] 4: Apocalypse Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. "The Making of [Rec] 4: Apocalypse" (28 minutes) has star Manuela Velasco taking us around the ship, where we see certain key scenes being shot. We also hear from Director Jaume Balaguero, who talks about the ideas and goals of the film. The extras also include THEATRICAL TRAILERS, a TV SPOT, and an "Image Gallery".
I'm not above admitting when I'm wrong and my rant in the review above was simply wrong, as I'd forgotten an important plot point from [Rec] 2. That aside, [Rec] 4: Apocalypse may not be the conclusion to the series that fans were looking for, but it's still a tight horror movie which contains some nice visuals.
Review Copyright 2015/2018 by Mike Long