Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More Biting, Less Recording: Relentless, blood-filled "[REC] 4" wisely sticks to what it knows

[REC] 4 (2015)
95 min., rated R.

The four-part Spanish horror "[REC]" series has proven to be strongest when it sticks to being more of the same rather than deviating too much in tone or palm-sweating tension. After co-directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza put viewers through the wringer with 2007's claustrophobic, scary-as-hell "[REC]" and 2010's superior "[REC] 2," Plaza branched off from his partner for the third, 2012's often inventively gory but ineffectively jokey parallel sequel "[REC] 3: Génesis," with less successful results. For "[REC] 4" (or "[REC] 4: Apocalypse" as it's also being titled), Balagueró gets the chance to direct, co-writing the script with Manu Díez, and his solo effort can be thought of as the "Aliens" to the first two films being like "Alien." It can be a double-edged sword that Balagueró does little to bring a fresh arc to this fourth film, but sometimes, what is reliable can be more than enough.

Whereas "[REC] 3: Génesis" strayed from the bleak terror of the first two and took a break from the first-person verité-style aesthetic, director Jaume Balagueró also goes for a more standard, if still jittery and pretty dynamic, shooting style and picks back up with TV reporter Ángela Vidal's survival story. Due to the outbreak close to Barcelona, an oil tanker has set sail to ensure total isolation. Surviving with no memory of what happened in the six hours she was trapped in that quarantined city apartment building, Ángela (Manuela Velasco) breaks out of the infirmary aboard the high-security ocean liner from being examined. According to Dr. Ricarte (Héctor Colomé), who's in charge of medical protocol, she is not infected with the virus, but footage of the reporter being fed the worm-like parasite might point to otherwise. To read the rest of the review, go to Diabolique Magazine.

Grade: B -

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