[REC] Apocalypse


Viewed – 02 March 2015  Blu-ray

What the previous, third entry in this popular cult franchise had in personality, gore and entertainment, it lacked in under-the-skin scares and dread, whilst adding very little to the story.  Oh and why it was called Genesis is anyone’s idea.  However a bride wielding a chainsaw will always get points from me.

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So we come to this fourth and probably final entry in the franchise, as lone survivor Angela; the reporter who managed to get through the horrors of the apartment building in the first two movies, finds herself on a boat surrounded by scientists and the military amongst the regular crew.  Have they managed to contain the virus that caused people to turn into ravenous zombies?  Thankfully this is a return to the more serious, claustrophobic and tension filled tone of the first two movies, dropping much of the schlock of the third, which at times was more comedy than horror.  The hand-held camera approach that worked so well initially doesn’t make a return however but that’s no major loss (apart from causing the title to make little sense) and I still found this pretty nail biting stuff.  Following on from the shock climax of the second movie, I enjoyed the is-she isn’t-she of Angela’s infection, wondering what the scientists are really up to, and why there seems to be a monkey running around.

In Manuela Velasco’s Angela we have a gutsy, suitably sexy heroine who is supported well by some interesting characters, including a geeky tech guy who just happens to be the plucky reporter’s number-one fan.  The movie barely touches on the demonic possession angle of the previous movies however and is much more straight-forward action horror – with a very exciting and intense final act.  Yet by the time we reach this fourth entry, clearly the story is scraping the ideas-barrel … and a parasitic organism just isn’t as scary as possession, despite the franchise’s initial potential.  For a zombie-fest though, I still had a good time.

Verdict:  3 /5

[REC] 3: Genesis


Viewed – 05 September 2012  Blu-ray

The first two movies in this Spanish horror franchise were full on knuckle gnawing horror fests of the highest calibre.  So the prospect of another, albeit prequel was considerably tantalising.  Telling the story of a newly married couple as they celebrate their wedding day … this soon falls prey to demonic possession, and before long our love struck heroes are separated and battling possessed family members in order to find one another again.

Shot initially like a wedding video, this seemed like familiar ground.  Yet it soon transformed into a glossy popcorn horror, and quickly I realised this was no quick, rushed out sequel.  The tone is radically different, and this time there is a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour to proceedings highlighted by the somewhat absurdity of setting it all at a wedding reception complete with ravenous guests and a chainsaw wielding bride!  Sadly, for a prequel it surprisingly offers up no answers and actually only takes place a short while before the events in REC 1.  So yes, what ‘genesis’ is relating to is anyone’s guess.

Thankfully, this is stylishly and effectively directed by Paco Plaza (directing partner Jaume Balaguero is busy at work on the fourth instalment), and although feeling very much a deviation from the franchise, retains an infectious personality, and along with some cheer-at-the-screen gory deaths and solid performances from the cast (especially Laeticia Dolera & Diego Martin as the bride and groom) … there is a great deal to enjoy.  If compared to its illustrious predecessors, it can’t help but be a step backwards, but taken as a stand alone movie – [REC] 3 still manged to kick ass.

Roll on [REC] Apocalypse!

Verdict:  3.5 /5

[REC] 2


Viewed – 25 September 2010  Blu-ray

Warning: May contain spoilers for [REC] #1

I absolutely loved [REC], a fresh take on the zombie genre that delivered tension, a claustrophobic atmosphere and genuine scares.  At the time the hand-held documentary style was getting a little old what with the likes of The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield having done it before.  But this breathed new life into the concept and made for truly unnerving viewing.

The sequel set apparently 15 minutes after that shocking ending (first timers really shouldn’t be reading this) where protagonist Angela was dragged off into the darkness at the viewpoint of her night vision camera.  We then join a group of SWAT cops as they are instructed to enter the building, now on lockdown with a mission to get in, clean up, and get out.  Yet as can be expected, things don’t exactly go to plan, and its not long before they are fighting for their lives.

It would have been easy for directors Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza to just copy the jumps and scares of the first movie and rake in the returns, but no, they have developed the concept to include multiple viewpoints from various characters, even picture-in-picture, all ranking up that feeling of helplessness and confusion – meaning when the shocks come, you will truly jump half a metre off your seat.  The first movie impressed because it ended up being about a lot more than just infected people screaming and attacking when the reporter and her camera man entered the closed off penthouse to discover evidence of demonic possession.  This movie then dramatically focuses on this and some moments felt like The Exorcist with possessed ‘infected’ speaking in a creepy voice and swearing.    I’ll admit I found much of it quite disturbing and although at times the chaos threatens to overwhelm the movie and often it was difficult to tell what was happening due to the darkness and the multiple viewpoints – the overall tone here was one of genuine fear – which few movies truly accomplish.

It may lack the gradual build up of the first movie and ultimately lose something due to its much wider focus, but this is a movie that hits the ground running, and doesn’t stop until you are completely worn out.  If you didn’t get a kick out of [REC], then this won’t convert you, but any fan of horror should seek this one out immediately.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray version is a near 2 hour documentary titled ‘An Infected World’ that sheds much on how the movie was put together, and makes for a fascinating watch.  The DVD & Blu-ray both feature extended and deleted scenes also.

Verdict:  4 /5

[REC]


Viewed 22 Agust 2008  DVD

When a movie is said to be the scariest film of all time – those are big words.  The Blair Witch Project, a film this Spanish horror resembles in style but not in subject, was hyped the same but disappointed due to a tiny budget and few genuine scares.  Not so for this story of a female reporter, her camera guy and a team of firemen who become trapped in an apartment building after a routine night shift turns into a gruelling battle for survival.  The feisty female (Manuela Velasco) at the centre of the action is superbly convincing, all ambition and naivety following these firefighters and trying to make a documentary in the process.

In much the same way as Blair Witch and Cloverfield and more recently Diary of the Dead, this is all hand-held camera work that cranks up the immediacy and intensity – but unlike those films there is more believability and  genuine point to the ‘keep on filming’ and the directors here (Jaume Balaguero & Paco Blaza) have nailed the concept perfectly.  Now what makes this film so damn effective is the well staged shocks that will have you jumping out of your seat on several occasions even if you can sometimes see them coming.  Also add to this the claustrophobic atmosphere of the building, and the use of black outs, night vision and a superb sense of hopelessness – this is easily one of the most terrifying movies I have ever seen.

For full effect watch in the dark with the sound cranked up!!

Verdict:  5 /5