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Rec 4 DVDDirector: Jaume Balaguero

Starring: Manuela Velasco, Paco Manzanedo, Hector Colome, Ismael Fritschi, Crispulo Cabezas

Running Time: 95 minutes

Certificate: 18

REC exploded onto the horror scene, given us an incredible collaboration of zombie madness and found-footage. It breathed new life into both its medium and its genre, and offered up one of the most terrifying films of recent years. The first person perspective kept us hunkered in to the film’s premise. The third instalment gleefully toyed with the found-footage, before dropping it altogether, and now REC 4: Apocalypse completely rids itself of its oppressive chains. This should allow for the film to explore new avenues and offer up greater exploration of characters and mythology. It doesn’t. Instead we get just another generic zombie (infected, whatever) film.

Setting up the scene aboard a huge oil tanker, the film immediately confines itself once again. Although this can often work out well, and should add terror and a sense of claustrophobia, it merely limits the film. A series of characters wake up and have no idea where they are, including protagonist of the first film, Angela (Velasco). On board are your usual bunch of horror cliches, including doctors who are convinced Angela is infected with the source of the outbreak.

It takes far too long for the film to get going, and when it does it’s headed in a predictable direction. At one point the series looked to blur the lines between science and religion, suggesting elements of possession as well as an illness. That all seems to be dropped now, and instead we get a bland fight for survival on a boat that homages THE THING.

It’s very easy to forget that this film has anything to do with REC or REC 2, and could just have easily been a recycled script. The franchise once seemed as though it was headed in a particular direction, but now it would much rather just flounder about in a safety net. It looks nicer and more polished than the first two films, but whereas Balaguero seemed to be a genius when it came to staging shots from a single camera, when given more flexibility he just gives us something we’ve seen before. As a zombie movie it’s a passable effort that fits snugly into the genre, as a REC film it’s just a sore disappointment.

[usr=2] REC 4: Apocalypse is released on DVD and Blu-ray 2nd March.