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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Movie Review: REC 4: Apocalypse

What would you do if you were trapped somewhere against your will? In January 2015, Angela has survived one quarantined nightmare... just to wind up in another.

Directing this 95 minute horror/thriller is Jaume Balaguero.

Some of the cast is: Manuela Velasco as Angela Vidal, Paco Manzanedo as Guzman, Hector Colome as Dr. Ricarte, Crispulo Cabezas as Lucas, Ismael Fritschi as Nick.

In the first movie, Angela was trapped in an apartment building with a strange virus that makes those infected violent and deadly. It was later found out that the strange virus was the biological cause of demonic possession. One by one, the occupants of the building were turned and went after the
healthy ones. Before anyone knew it, the building was put into a quarantine and no one was allowed to leave. All the while news reporter Angela Vidal and her cameraman were able to capture everything that happened. Eventually, a GEO (Grupo Especial de Operaciones/Special Group of Operations) team was sent in to get things under control. While making their way through the building the GEO team finds Angela. Soon, the few remaining people get to exit the building... but where they wake up is the new problem.

Back in 2007 when the first REC film came out, Balaguero and Paco Plaza were both in the director's seat. Then came the sequel REC 2 (2009) and nothing had changed, both individuals sat together to build something the fans would appreciate. REC 3: Genesis (2012), however, was just a Paco Plaza piece and had some noticeable differences from the first two films. Not a huge difference mind you, and it still ties in well, but (to me) it had some comedy and was a bit lighter with the feel of the storyline. Then comes REC 4 with (just) Balaguero sitting down to direct it and wrap things up. Now, this is supposed to be the last film for the REC series. Unfortunately, as is the movie world these days, you always want to make sure you haven't locked yourself out of a possible sequel. You know, because giving some complete and utter closure to a film is a weird and freaky idea I guess. So, we'll see about this being the last one. 
                                                         


This time writers Jaume Balaguero and Manu Diez penned out not only a good sequel, but a decent closing to the franchise. Balaguero and Diez decided to follow up with the end of the second film, which makes the third film happening around (ish) the same time as the second one. So really, no time has passed and we are still with the original storyline. Yet, who wants to see a third film where everyone is still trapped in an apartment building? No fear because neither did the writers. This time we get a new location, a bunch more people... and (again) a small space for everyone to be trapped in. I say small, but when it comes to running for your life... I want nothing but open fields! Buildings etc. are great for hiding, but when the jig is up and everyone knows where you are, it's time to run and a building doesn't give you a whole lot of that kind of option. You can run upstairs... or downstairs, I'm more of a lateral movement kind of person and hallways don't help you with that.

The storyline flows really good and it held my attention the entire time. Then again, that could also be because I had to pay attention to the subtitles to know what was going on. Either way, you still get plenty of action, a good cast, plenty of horror and bloody messes to make you cringe a bit. Adding all that up, and for the first time in awhile I found a fourth installment to a franchise that was actually good. Usually things start to fall apart after part 2, then just continue to roll down hill from there. However, as cool as everything was, I wasn't to happy with the ending, I felt like they could have come up with something a little more wowing to close everything up with.

Now, as much as I liked this one and I thought the playthrough was really good. I had a problem with the special effects. It's not that they didn't look good, because they did. David Ambit did some killer work with the special effects makeup and everything had a smooth flow when it was CGI time that blended in well. However, my issue came when it was splatter time. Now, when you're using a device (like a boat motor) to kill the... rage ridden... zombies (?) and you're standing at ground zero when this goes down. One could understand why the walls, floor, ceiling etc was COVERED in a mess... but the person holding said motor... is clean and good to go? Umm, really?! At first I didn't even think about it, then they did it again and that's when I noticed how clean and fresh looking everyone was afterwards.  So, yeah, that's my only real complaint with the effects. Other than that, great job all around. 
                                                           


Another cool thing I liked about this one was the continued cinematography work done by Pablo Rosso. Rosso has been doing the same awesome job now in all four flicks, which to me was kind of a plus on their side. When you have a good thing going, why ruin it, right? Plus, this one wasn't a found footage film like the first couple were.

I thought the cast did a good job and it was really cool seeing Velasco come back to reprise her role as Angela from the first two movies. Really though, no one stood out as far as acting jobs go. There's an average job straight across the board by everyone. You believe what's going on in the scene, and the bad acting is rare.

Overall, I've been waiting for this one since I saw the trailer, and I'm actually happy with what I saw. So, is this one worth catching? Yeah, as a horror fan and as a REC fan, I would definitely put this one on your watch list and make time for it.

It's rated R for violence and language.

3 stars

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