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August 25, 2015

[REC] 4: Apocalipsis

by Franz Patrick


[REC] 4: Apocalipsis (2014)
★ / ★★★★

Having been rescued from a high-rise apartment complex, Ángela (Manuela Velasco) finds herself on a ship with scientists who are trying understand the highly infectious disease that drove the apartment residents into a killing spree. Key to that understanding is having an animal model. Monkeys are placed in cages, but it is only a matter of time under one infected primate escapes and bites a human being.

“[REC] 4: Apocalypse,” written by Jaume Balagueró and Manu Díez, is a standard, gory horror picture with nothing new to show or say about the genre, zombies, or science once again going wrong. The last section of the film involves a timer counting down before a bomb goes off. It is the longest twenty minutes; I wished all of the characters would get stuck on that ship prior to the inevitable explosion because it would mean that the movie was finally over. Of course, the lead character must survive for a possibility of a sequel.

The writers and filmmakers show no understanding of how to make an effective horror film. They have this wonderful environment—a sizable ship surrounded by endless ocean—and most of what is shown is desperate, sweaty-looking characters running around and shooting guns. Once in a while they manage to grab another weapon but the novelty wears off quickly because these scenes rely only on blood and not an active attempt in building suspense or intrigue.

The editing is manic, almost nonsensical, and so we never get a chance to appreciate scenes that should have been memorable. It rests on showing an enclosed space and fitting as many bodies as possible within that space. It is supposed to provide a claustrophobic atmosphere but it does not work because far too many cuts are made before we realize that escape is nearly impossible. Far too many directors confuse rapid editing or quick cuts for creating a sense of urgency. This is most common in bottom-of-the-barrel action and horror films.

Ángela is neither written nor portrayed as a compelling character. She is a survivor but not once do get to feel her inner strength and drive to want to keep living. Velasco plays the character flat and passive at times. Ángela is the only woman on that ship and yet she is almost treated as an afterthought. Why bring back a character when there is no point in showing her again? We learn nothing about her past, who she is, and what her plans are for the future. She is on the screen only because she survived the first movie. I found that depressing.

Directed by Jaume Balagueró, “[REC] 4: Apocalipsis” highlights the exhaustion of the series. It insults the viewers by assuming that watching characters run around is entertainment and that showing blood is special. The filmmakers responsible for creating this dung could learn a thing or two from the master of blood and story David Cronenberg.

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