[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.
★★★ / ★★★★
Having seen and being impressed with the remake called “Quarantine,” I just had to see the original. I think both are very effective even though they pretty much had the same scenes. In “[REC],” astutely directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, it had less exposition but the audiences quickly cared about the reporter (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman. The reporter had a certain spunk and enthusiasm and what the cameraman saw, we saw so there was an automatic connection there. Everything starts off pretty light as the reporter interviewed the firemen about their every day happenings. Things quickly went for a darker turn when the firefighters got a call from an old apartment complex. At first, they thought it was just an old woman that fell and needed help. But when she started attacking and biting people, everyone pretty much knew that something more sinister was going on. People started dying in gruesome ways in the hands of zombie-like infected people and they get quarantined by city officials without an ounce of explanation. What I love about this film was its natural ability to build tension after each scene. There were moments when I thought that if I was stuck in the building with them, the exact same thing could happen so I was definitely more than engaged. “The Blair Witch Project” was undoubtedly this picture’s biggest inspiration but it managed to tilt just enough to have an identity of its own. The best part of the movie for me was the last fifteen to twenty minutes when they finally made it inside the apartment on the top floor. Such scenes revealed to us that it had more to it than “28 Days Later”-like zombies. The disease had a history and I wanted to know more about it. (Maybe a sequel?) But, of course, the scares did not end there. I felt like I was in that dark room with them as they tried to use the night vision option on the camera. I tried not to blink because I was expecting those “shock”/”jumpy” moments. But even then I was surprised and things popped out of nowhere. If one is a horror film fan, this is a must-see. However, this is definitely not for those who dislike shaky cameras in order to add some type of realism to its craft.