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[REC] 4: Apocalypse (DVD Review)

REC 4The popular Spanish-language horror series [REC] comes to a terrifying conclusion in[REC]4: APOCALYPSE, available on DVD April 14 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Original series writer/director Jaume Balagueró ([REC], [REC]2) returns to deliver a “head-bashing, blood splattering and gut gushing explosively awesome ending to a franchise that aims at nothing but to scare the living daylight out of you” (Rama’s Screen). Manuela Velasco ([REC], [REC]2) also returns in her Fangoria Chainsaw Award®-nominated performance ([REC], Best Actress, 2007) as television reporter Ángela Vidal.  Finally rescued from the virus-infected building, Ángela is taken to an oil tanker quarantine facility to be examined. Little do the soldiers on board know, Ángela now carries the seeds of the mysterious demonic virus that is about to be unleashed one last, horrifying time.  This must-own finale to the action-packed horror saga that inspired the hit American remake Quarantine comes with a thrilling making-of featurette.

Rec 4 a

Film 

Several hours have passed since the terrible events that ravaged the old building in Barcelona. After the chaos of the first few moments, elite soldiers infiltrated the building to put an end to this nightmare once and for all. They thought the mission was a success. Angela Vidal, the young television reporter who entered the building with the fireman just hours before, manages to make it out alive – but no one knows that within her she carries the seed of the strange infection. When she is taken to quarantine, the high-security isolation facility becomes the perfect breeding ground for the virus to be reborn and mutate into even more deadly forms, setting the scene for unimaginable horrors. The apocalypse has just begun…

I come into this finale a big big fan of this series.  It started as a nice little Spanish cult film that you passed word along to your friends to a full on series.  The first two films in this series are modern horror classics.  They’re also two of the very best films to use the found footage aesthetic ever.  It works effectively and truly has a purpose.  While its short of being up there with the first two, I’m actually a fan of the third one that went away from found footage.  For me, it was a fun little side step jaunt with the series.  A departure for sure, but I still enjoyed it enough to find it a worthwhile endeavor.

Now comes Apocalypse.  A promise to go back to the main storyline and finish the whole thing off for good.  They’ve brought back our “lead” or constant of the first two films, the reporter at the fire station we started it all off with.  This finale also connects to the third one by way of an old woman who is the only survivor from the wedding massacre.  Found footage is once again dropped to be a traditional film, and they’ve set it up as “Under Siege with the infected” as it takes place on a ship in the middle of the ocean.

The first act of this, while interesting, is atrociously bad in the writing department.  Its extremely exposition heavy in clumsy ways that don’t come across as natural and come across too much as “HEY AUDIENCE, PLEASE REMEMBER THIS.  PLEASE! LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN”.  Once the film kicks into gear, this sort of things does go away, but the sort of loose carefree dialogue here sticks around.

As for the rest of it, Apocalypse is pretty fun if you’re a fan.  I think its obvious the first two films aren’t going to be topped at this point.  Things play out and feel very much like its a video game come to life which is neat in a way.  There are some cool deaths, chases, set pieces and new elements introduced here that will keep you entertained for the short run of it.  Overall, I enjoyed this venture, but it wasn’t the WAM BAM completely satisfying ending to the series that I was hoping for.

Rec 4 c

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-2 NTSC

Resolution: 480i

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  For a DVD, this is a pretty good picture.  Coming from Sony, its really no surprise for the look though.  Things are as sharp as they can be and detail looks pretty good in static shots.

Depth:  Given the medium, depth is decent.  Movement is okay, with some blur in fast moving sequences.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich and provide a lot of shading.  Some crushing is present in really dark settings.

Color Reproduction:  This film doesn’t really have a bright and beautiful palette.  Colors look very natural and come across as bold renditions.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent.  In close ups that don’t feature a lot of camera or person movement, detail is pretty strong.

Noise/Artifacts:  Just regular DVD issues with noise, aliasing and compression issues in spots.

Rec 4 d

Audio 

Audio Format(s): Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH

Dynamics:  This is a pretty good 5.1 track.  Effects are well rounded and protrude at many different volume levels.  The score beats through pretty nicely, weaving in and out with the dialogue and sounds.

Low Frequency Extension:  The sub lends a hand at some good score hits, action beats and jump scares.  Crank it up.

Surround Sound Presentation: Impressively there’s some good ambiance in the form of mechanical ship sounds and eerie ambiance in the rear speakers.  The front speakers pack a punch with different volume lefts and movements left to right and vice versa.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud and clean.

Rec 4 b

Extras 

[REC] 4 Making Of (SD, 27:57) – A nice little production journal with interviews, on set footage and effects testing.

Rec 4 e

Summary 

[REC] 4: Apocalypse is decent enough, but its no real grand finale.  The film has its moments, but is also relatively clumsy and clonky with its screenplay throughout its run.  For a DVD, this proves to be a good presentation and the Making Of is pretty solid, up to part to par with the previous making of for the [REC] series.  Its quite a bummer that North America hasn’t yet seen a [REC] film hit Blu-ray.  If this is all you can do for the film, then by all means, but if you have a region free player, check out one of the releases from a territory across the pond (which are actually cheaper than this DVD).

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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