Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (opens in new tab)’s Spanish zombie horror franchise [REC] (opens in new tab) has always been a winner in my books: genuinely scary, gloriously gruesome, and insanely inventive.
The 2007 fright flick took the fad for shooting horror movies documentary-style to its zenith by setting the action in the claustrophobic confines of a Barcelona apartment block as Manuela Velasco (opens in new tab)’s cheery reality TV show presenter Angela witnessed first-hand a mysterious viral outbreak that turned the inhabitants into rabid flesh-eating zombies.
That film culminated in a nail-biting 10-minute finale, that screamed ‘sequel’ and fans got their wish two years later, where the grisly carnage continued in the same cramped, shadow-lit setting, but with a demonic twist added to the mix. Hailed as the best horror sequel since Romero's Dawn of the Dead, [REC] 2 (opens in new tab) concluded with an infected Angela being rescued by the Spanish health authorities and taken to whereabouts unknown. Director Paco Plaza went solo three years later for the blood-soaked [REC]3: Genesis (opens in new tab), which ditched the found-footage formula and injected black humour as Leticia Dolera (opens in new tab)’s plucky chainsaw-wielding bride Clara took on her zombie-fied wedding guests.
For 2014’s [REC]4: Apocalypse (opens in new tab), director Jaume Balagueró returned to another claustrophobic setting. This time round it's an oil tanker, where Angela is being held following her rescue from the quarantined apartment block at the end of the second film. But as she is now carrying the seed of the demonic virus, it’s not long before all hell breaks loose all over again…
Relentless horror ensues as the tanker's cramped confines become an incubator for the new outbreak. With copious amounts of gore, guts and blood spilled at every turn, it gets quite overwhelming by the halfway mark, and I kind of missed the tongue-in-cheek direction of the third outing. There is, however, a nod to Genesis when an elderly lady turns out to be the only survivor of the wedding massacre in that film. Thankfully, when the credits close out on this final entry in the franchise, our now hardened heroine does finally make it out alive… yeah!
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