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The [REC] Collection (Blu-ray Review)

I feel one of the most under appreciated big releases of this fall on Blu-ray is Scream Factory’s US debut of The [REC] Collection. If you’ll…ahem…RECollect, for some reason these four films were only released on DVD here in the United States. Personally, I had the first 3 imported from Canada (Region A) and the fourth film from the UK (Region B locked). But I’m more than excited to upgrade to a very nice, snazzy new packaging that loads up with all the bonus material these films carried along the way. This is a very special film series in both terms of the found footage aesthetic and 21st century horror. The first two films may be tops in terms of that storytelling motif, but they are also amazing films regardless of that. Do yourself a favor and show this set some love when it hits on September 25th. Pre-order a copy today!

[REC] 

Late-night TV host Angela and her cinematographer are following the fire service on a call to an apartment building, but the Spanish police seal off the building after an old woman is infected by a virus which gives her inhuman strength.

Everything done correctly in a found footage-based movie can be found in the original [REC] film. Importantly, there’s an actual reason and purpose to have a camera and to keep it running that doesn’t at all feel forced or out of place. In addition, the flow of events feels so damn relaxed and natural as it descents into the madness that occurs in the film. Said camera work is also clear and effective. It isn’t just shaky to try to scare or hide really cheap monsters or bad effects. This camera will show you the terror right up in your face or be still on a nightmare-inducing silhouette down the hall.

Complimenting the visuals here is the outstanding sound design. While many think the visual aesthetic is all there is, the sound is JUST as important if not more. It provides not only jumps, but keeps our 360 degree environment aligned and always present. We are in a point of view for the entire film, so it better feel like we are in that person’s perspective. And this film really gets you going and has you worried about whats around the corner and jumping from your seat when being chased or grabbed at.

Another aspect of the film is how naturally everything builds and how clear and unforced the feeding of information is throughout the story. Nothing comes to a screeching halt to explain anything. And some of it you can just take or leave it, coming up with your own assumptions. They leave enough in the air to be plenty mysterious while also giving you a decent understanding. Its chilling and eerie when watching alone. Most horror should be, but this movie REALLY demands and rewards you for watching it in a completely blacked out room.

[REC] is a full throttle, scary as hell experience in the land of found footage and zombie/possessed/whatever word or type pleases you, horror. The filmmaking and geography on display are done to outstanding levels. This is the highest bar you can reach with found footage (In our present times) and should be what everyone strives to be. They’ve taken the concept, infused better action and genuine scares to it. It refuses to not show you things and puts them in your face and lit up. This isn’t the Paranormal Activity “Turn off the lights and make sounds” kind of found footage gimmicky film, no. Its as effect as any set camera horror film about the same topic could be, except, by doing found footage, this story becomes less of an also-ran and a more unique, memorable experience.

[REC]2 

Four HAZMAT-outfitted SWAT agents with recording equipment enter the Barcelona apartment building that was sealed off in REC, flanking a shifty Ministry of Health officer who seems to know more than he says. Only after things take an unexpected turn for the worse inside does he reveal the shocking truth of their operation. Since he’s the one in charge, no one leaves until he says so; with little other choice, the dwindling assault team do their best to help him, unable to comprehend what is happening around them.

The first two films in the [REC] series compliment each other so well and make for a terrific back to back experience. [REC]2 advances the narrative and storytelling devices while also delivering many of the same effective scares as the first film did. Hell, it takes place in the same damn building and manages to continue being great. Interestingly its done from a brand new perspective and shines light on some areas not explored in the first film. Its triumphant enough that its as good and better than the first film. You can literally flip a coin as to which one you like better and you’re going to be right.

[REC]2 changes the angle as to why its all filmed and hell, its an EVEN BETTER reason the cameras are never sit down or turned off. These are SWAT member helmet/body cams at work. They also are able to do a picture in picture feature so there is more terror on the screen than just the one view. Its pretty awesome and is able to have the film jump around to different sects of people in the building. Doing this crafts a different narrative structure and presents not only a more traditional ensemble plot, but presents new ways of delivering the horror.

With the addition of the SWAT team, the action quotient is ramped up. The characters before were just fireman, commoners and a news team. Now we have full on automatic weapons to combat these beings with. Therefore, it now gets louder and more intense with just that addition. The film also doesn’t waste any time in catching up to where we left off in our revelations/knowledge of the background events that cause this paranormal activity (Eh? ehhhhh?) to occur.

You’re in good hands with the second film in the [REC] series. Its more than an encore lap based on the success of the previous film. It is clear and present in every frame that the filmmakers aren’t going through the motions, they are truly invested and not only want to see where this story goes, they have made it a challenge to top themselves from their prior effect. Its effective and incredibly intense. [REC]2 holds up to sitting alongside the first as one of the best (The best, maybe?) film using the found footage angle. The film is also, unquestionably, one of the best horror sequels of all time.

[REC]3: Genesis 

Its the day of the wedding of Clara and Koldo. All their friends and family are there at the church and some are filming the wedding. Everyone can see that the couple are so in love, so happy, yet so not ready for what is going to happen while at the reception. They notice the police arriving outside the reception hall, but they’re not sure on why they are there. And as in the first two films, things turn nasty for all those involved. Will the newly weds survive the night?

Genesis makes a pretty bold decision in its first act, it takes a left turn and drops the found footage aspect to tell its story. The series had been known as the found footage king (In terms of quality) and now had backed away from it. Perhaps they felt they pushed it the furthest they could and the only way to go was traditional. They have also opted for a different tone with Genesis. Per usual, with any sudden change in a franchise, fandom tends to turn on it. I’ve seen a lot of backlash regarding this film. Hell, just post about [REC] on social media and someone is bound to just bash this film out of nowhere instead of just talking about one of the films they like.

Unpopular opinion: I enjoy [REC]3: Genesis quite a bit. I’m never against the change of pace or admirably going for something completely different rather than just play it safe over and over and over. That kinda stuff isn’t bad, but it can also get a little boring. Not going too far ahead, but this winds up being the quirky, off the wall film in the series. You don’t even have to check it out, you can skip by and go straight toward the fourth. Genesis is basically the Halloween III: Season of the Witch of the [REC] franchise.

The opening found footage portion of the film IS actually pretty clever and wonderfully satirical. Its intentionally pretty crummy and seems to have a sense to do many of the things and present set ups that many subpar copycats and also-rans that use the motif do in their failings. And then it all ends with getting rid of the damn camera and a spiteful line. Its a HUGE moment if you don’t know its coming and sure, for some it could be polarizing. But, its also better than just straight up going from Blair Witch to Blair Witch: Book of Shadows. Catch the audience off guard. Which, fanboys tend to hate because they like to pride themselves on being smarter than the movies they are watching.

With this third film in the series we get a nice goofy little love story built around a wedding day and reception. Where most movies would try to interrupt the wedding, it gets to happen here and THEN they become separated and need to work their way back to each other. The movie has a more humorous and emotional tone than the ones before, still having some scares, but giving us some better views on the blood and guts while ramping up some of the silliness that can come with the kills. I find the whole thing to be pretty cute, which is not something horror fans want to hear about a movie, but the horror genre can be so many things and go in so many directions for me that I can buy into something like this. Also, Leticia Dolera’s blood splattered, chainsaw wielding bride Clara is HELLA iconic just in appearance alone. She’s also a fun character.

People don’t seem to like [REC]3: Genesis, but I’ve fallen for it. It’s still a very quick movie like the others and I like veering off to something different and a little more fun. It gives the series a little bit of variety. But, if its not your thing, its not your thing. That’s fair. I may look at films of this ilk a bit differently. Its a clear step down in quality from the first two (Modern masterpieces of the genre), but still good fun.

[REC]4: Apocalypse 

Ángela Vidal, the spunky young television reporter that entered the building in 2007 has exited with the swat team. Little do they know that she carries the seed of the strange demonic infection. She is taken to an oil tanker miles off shore which has been especially equipped for the quarantine.

Apocalypse and Genesis were each a solo effort by the directorial team who did the first two films. Maybe that’s why they both are a tier below and don’t seem to quite reach that elite level. This fourth completely opts out of the found footage, only have a few brief security cam moments here and there. While it continues from where the second one left off (The third one took place alongside in a different place), it quickly changes scenery to a big military ship out on the water. It has the advantage of having Manuela Velasco back too.

There are some pretty impressive moments in terms of scale that happen here on the boat. Toward the end with the storm and hoards of possessed/zombies/infected folks chasing, it feels more grand and bigger than the series ever had before. Also, some of the very industrial sets make for a change of pace from the apartment rooms. However, they do make for a monotonous “blah” kind of setting. Most of the wandering moments and rooms used make scenes in the movie feel the same when looking at.

Whereas I thought after they dumped the found footage in the third one, it still brought something unique, fun and fresh to the table, Apocalypse really doesn’t. It introduces some stuff with monkeys that add a little bit of new terror for some action beats, but not a whole lot. Whereas [REC] had felt something different and special, the fourth film feels no different than any generic low budget modern zombie/infected kinda film. In fact, there are many things in this movie reminding me of the 28 Days Later films.

Don’t get me wrong, Apocalypse is still enjoyable and better than most generic zombie movies, but this is the film that the series lost something that made it more special. In this final chapter it now doesn’t feel very different than the other movies of its ilk. It used to be the leader but has inadvertently settled for just hanging back and enjoying things with others instead of taking charge. Its an all right end, but a long way from the feelings and success that made the first two films somewhat magical.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio:

  • [REC] & [REC]2 – 1.85:1
  • [REC]3: Genesis & [REC]4: Apocalypse – 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: With the found footage aspect of the first 2 films and a section of the third, distortions and such are to be expect in this image. The transfers on all 4 films look very handsome. Crisp, sharp and very modern looking. While the films have a darkness to them because…well, the setting is usually darkness, there is a bit of a vivid flavor to them. Detail is pretty strong and textures come on pretty good. Newspaper clippings not only show age and wear, but you can read through them pretty decently when the camera hits them right. The final two films obviously look the best by nature of their production, with the third one finding a more beautiful looking aesthetic as it takes place during a wedding with churches and such. Overall, these look up to par with the Canadian and UK releases and may likely be the same transfers. Which is A-okay, they look great.

Depth:  Each film features some solid spacing. The first two films may be harder to tell, but when lit and open, there’s a nice showing for depth of field. The third and fourth films have really solid spacing and push back that showcases. Apocalypse in particular has a terrific look with the scale of the boat during a rainstorm late in the film. And of course the third film really shows some nice avenues of free moving environments as the film is the best lit of the bunch.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and plenty rich and consuming. Details are meant to be hidden at times. No crushing was witnessed during any of the film. Shadows and darkness had a nice, lovely and defining look to them. Surfaces, clothing and hair follicles all show up pretty good in all the films as well.

Color Reproduction: The first two films and the fourth present a more natural palette of colors on display with nothing more than red popping out and blues looking pretty lovely. The third film pops a bit more finding more vibrant colors due to the setting and being better lit while also having more lavish clothing on the wedding patrons and the like.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent. Detail is more apparent in the 2nd film onward, but the first film still features some good clarity and textures. Dried blood, moles, wrinkles, bruises, dimples and more are all pretty clear when the lighting is there and the distance is within a reasonable range for your expectation. Of course you do get a better view and more information in the last 2 films as the camerawork being traditional allows for that naturally.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s):

  • [REC] – Spanish 2.0 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
  • [REC]2, [REC]3:Genesis, [REC]4: Apocalypse – Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The entire [REC] series is one that lives for and thrives on its sound design. Its as important to the experience of the film as any plot point. You need to “feel” the movie as much as follow it. The first two films have a more whirlwind 360 experience when in the room watching, but the overall depth, layering and balance find themselves very even from the first through Apocalypse. These are so much fun to just crank up and forget where a jump or a yell is at in the film.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Loud banging, chainsaws roaring, shotguns blasting, bodies landing on the floor and soundscape-ish things all bump for the jump in the subwoofer. The booming is pretty consistent from film to film in the set.

Surround Sound Presentation: These movies are so much fun. The first two really go for it in terms of unique sounds and using different volumes levels and such because the experience of the movie relies on fully realizing and having fun with the environment. The other two films play like regular movies but still are pretty killer in motion and bringing the films to life.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear as the scene and aesthetic demand.

Extras 

The [REC] Collection is a 4-disc set in individual amaray cases for each movie, stored in a hard shell case.

[REC]

Audio Commentary

  • With Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza

The Making Of REC (SD, 40:52) – On-set footage of shooting the film mixed in with a sit down interview with the film’s directors intently going over their process and makign the film. Features some really cool videos of the make-up and effects process for the film.

Crew Interviews (SD, 46:38) – The film’s sound engineer, camera operator and one of the post production guys all give a very in depth and detailed look at their processes and you can see how they all really work together to bring it a sense of realism and terror.

Deleted Scenes (SD, 3:13)

Extended Scenes (SD, 30:05)

Behind The Scenes Footage (44:27) – Some candid stuff and little kinda interviews or asides, but it does include some auditions and rehearsals among watching the film be directed and arranged while on the set.

Teaser (HD, 1:57)

TV Spots (HD, 1:27)

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 3:09)

[REC]2

Audio Commentary

  • With Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza

The Making Of REC 2: In A World Of Infected People (SD, 1:58:14) – An extremely in depth look at making this film, guided by a sit down with the directors. Unlike the first film’s “Making Of”, this one features many more interviews aside from the directors to go along with the on-set footage. One particular bit I loved was a boardroom session where they had a map on the table and figurines trying to set out the travel and logistics of the film.

Behind The Scenes (SD, 55:37) – You really get to see the directors and crew at work here bringing many moments to life. This also contains more from that interview session with the directors as well as other effects people and such.

Deleted Scenes (SD, 4:07) 

Extended Scenes (SD, 3:35)

A Walkthrough Of The Set (SD, 9:09) – Has interviews mixed in, but tries to do a screen by screen and picture in picture look of the set vs what it looked like in the movie. Also features video of people constructing it as well.

REC 2 On Tour (SD, 8:58) – Video of cast and crew as they go to various screenings and festivals, also a little bit of some moments from Q&As following the fim

Stiges Film Festival Press Conference (SD, 11:24) – Some highlights from the press conference of the directors, crew and Manuela Velasco.

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 4:14) 

TV Spots (HD, :59)

Image Gallery (HD, 3:32)

[REC]3: Genesis

[REC]3 Genesis: Preparing A Bloody Wedding (SD, 1:57:45) – Another exhaustive, extremely introspective look at the making of one of these films. These are all much longer than the films themselves which is crazy, but awesome at the same time.

Making Of [REC]3 (SD, 23:12) – Wait? What was it we just watched then? LOL! This is just a quick, every abbreviated look at making the film. So, if you’re not down for 2 hours and you’re more of a 20 minutes and out type of person, here you go. It’s all the same interview sessions and things said.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 23:58) 

Outtakes (HD, 2:55)

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 5:01)

TV Spots (HD, 1:53)

Image Gallery (HD, 4:11)

[REC]4: Apocalypse

The Making Of REC 4: Apocalypse (HD, 27:58) – This one plays more like a little production journal than the other Making Ofs, but it gives a nice look at the construction of the finale for the series.

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 8:05)

TV Spot (HD, :36)

Image Gallery (HD, 4:55)

Summary 

Scream Factory has brought over The [REC] Collection with the top notch video, audio and extras they previously have had and given it some pretty sweet uniformed packaging. Many have never been able to own these on Blu-ray  in the US because of either not knowing, importing or being Region Free. Now is your time though, and with how extensive and nicely packaged this release is, the current pricing is a great deal. Plus, you’re getting some really awesome horror movies as well.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “The [REC] Collection (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Jeremy

    Thank you for this in-depth review — particularly the details about the extras. Your rating of each of the movies is spot-on; I regularly recommended the first flick to friends as one of the best horror flicks of the 2000s, and I agree that the third installment is fun in its own way. (I also think the latter would have been better received had it not bore the “Rec” name.) This set is en route to me, and I’m excited to dig in!