[REC] 4: Apocalypse marks the final chapter in the zombie franchise. But what started out in 2007 as a genuinely terrifying found-footage horror soon struggled to keep up that level of pace and terror. Indeed [REC] 3: Genesis was a low-point, only mildly salvaged by the visuals of a bride donning a chainsaw to take revenge on the monsters who ruined her wedding. So it is with some hope that [REC] 4 brings back reporter Angela (Manuela Velasco), the Ellen Ripley of the REC world, to finish what she started.
Opening back in the quarantined building of the first two films a team of special ops, led by Guzman (Paco Manzanedo), plant bombs throughout the building but in the process find and rescue Angela. Waking as someone takes her blood Angela and Guzman soon realise they are on a research ship designed to isolate and kill the demonic viral zombie infection. But with a storm brewing on the horizon things are about to go all Jurassic Park as monsters are unleashed.
Like the third film in the series Apocalypse dispenses with the found-footage in favour of a straight narrative ideal. The result is that this film is never close to replicating the terror of the original two films. Yes it finds ways of telling a deeper story, involving parasites, zombie monkeys and conspiracies, but you always feel cheated out of what you came for; a bloody good horror.
Because Apocalypse’s biggest fault is it’s never scary, not even remotely. It spends most of its time running around confined corridors in the belly of the ship with zombies occasionally jumping out while never giving much care or attention to tension building.
The first two REC films seemed to be drawing inspiration from the Alien franchise; the first a slow-build exercise in a haunted house before the second turned its attention to all out action of introducing guys with guns. It would work to have Apocalypse going down the Alien 3 route, and at a point it looks like it might but it never has the courage of its convictions to make Angela go full zombie pregnant. So by the end the “villain” is the only one doing the sensible thing of trying to kill-off the infection while our heroin is left seemingly scared of water and heights having spent three films battling zombies, perspective it seems is not this girl’s strong suit.
A disappointing send-off to a franchise that started strong [REC] 4: Apocalypse unfortunately sinks without a trace.