[REC] 4: Apocalypse
Manuela Velasco, Paco Manzanedo, Hector Colomé, Ismael Fritschi
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Spanish filmmakers, Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero, gave the found footage genre a shot of adrenaline back in 2007 with REC and later REC 2, which saw a theological tinged virus corrupt the tenants of an apartment block in Barcelona. Co-directing those first two, Plaza and Balaguero went solo for the next chapters in the franchise. Plaza shifted to an anarchic comedic tone with 2012’s Genesis, and now it’s Balaguero’s turn with the fourth and final chapter, Apocalypse.
Despite the promise of the title, there’s very little that’s apocalyptic about this fourth film. Set immediately after the events of REC 2 – but making cheeky references to the third – it sees Manuela Velasco return as TV journalist, Angela, now under quarantine on a tanker in the middle of the ocean. Her captors have her under close scrutiny as her constant survival could lead to the development of a retrovirus to cure the zombie outbreak. Of course, nothing in life is that simple, and when the virus spreads again due to zombie monkeys (yes, really), Angela must fight her way off the floating coffin.
It’s interesting to note how Plaza and Balaguero’s styles contrast when they don’t work together. Plaza aimed for splatter comedy, and here, Balaguero’s efforts resemble more of an action movie, as he replaces heightened tension with bombastic set pieces and a high body count. That’s not a dismissal of the film’s scope, just an acknowledgment that Apocalypse is perhaps not the ending to the franchise that fans were expecting. Those wanting to sift further into the REC universe will certainly leave wanting. Thrilling in parts but just missing the mark in so many other aspects, Apocalypse literally ends on a confused look instead of a bang. Maybe use less zombie monkeys next time.