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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 01.05.15] horror

It's hard to explain the excitement surrounding Jaume Balaguero's and Paco Plaza's original 2007 film, [REC], to anyone who wasn't tapped into horror movies at the time. The anticipation among fans for a foreign export or zombie movie was something rarely seen. Zombie films were slowly rising from the dead at that time to be sure, but there wasn't the glut of film, TV and comics devoted to the sub-genre that there is now. At the time, the film felt immediately fresh and when it was finally released it completely delivered on the frenetic and terrifying first bit of footage we'd seen.

That film was quickly followed up by [REC] 2, which was equally as good and built a whole new layer onto the mythology which also amping up the action aspects of the story.

But beyond a great premise and great filmmaking, the first two [REC] films had an important trick up their sleeves in Manuela Velasco, who played young reporter Ángela Vidal. The actress shines in both of those films, while also carrying all of the emotional weight on her shoulders. When the franchise lost her for last year's [REC] 3, so much of what we'd invested in the first two films was gone and, despite a few memorable sequences, the film felt slight and empty, as though the franchise was just treading water while they figured out how to tell a third story with the original concept.

Luckily, [REC]4: Apocalypse rectifies all this by zipping us back into the main through-line established in the first and second installments, giving us back Ángela Vidal and picking the story up directly after the end of [REC]2.

Vidal is rescued from the infamous building by a swat squad and wakes up a freighter sailing to an unknown destination. We are quickly introduced to a number of new characters and it becomes clear that the medical team in charge of the boat are hiding a potentially dangerous secret (which I won't give away).

Some viewers might be interested to know that even though [REC] 4: Apocalypse picks up right after [REC] 2, the filmmakers have abandoned the found footage aesthetic in favour of a more traditional form. This allows them to flip from various character perspectives, which makes sense given all the information they need to wrap up.

In terms of scares, [REC] 4: Apocalypse delivers a visceral horror experience that goes straight for the adrenal gland. In the tradition of the franchise, once the shit hits the fan and (spoiler alert) the virus takes hold, it's a fast paced horror ride with a couple exceptional set pieces (perhaps the best zombie monkey in cinema history).

I think fans of the [REC] series who were a little disappointed in the last installment will feel the latest is an improvement and return to form for the series.

[REC] 4: Apocalypseis out now on Amazon, VOD and iTunes and stuff, so check it out if you're in the mood for a quality zombie flick. Heaven knows, despite so much zombie stuff out there, they are hard to come by.

Recommended Release: [REC] 4: Apocalypse

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