Rec 4: Apocalypse further builds upon the story of a strange zombie-like outbreak in Spain that started in a small apartment building (see: Rec 1: The Rec-koning and Rec 2: Call the Pope) and fucked up a wedding (Rec 3: The Wedding One). (I made those names up, but you probably thought they were legit. I’m just that good.) Now our heroine from Rec (1) is back and she’s ready to kick ass (and growl a lot for some reason. like, a lot).
Angela (Manuela Velasco) survived the events of Rec and Rec 2, but she was infected by the alpha zombie-like person with a worm-thing via a very unsexy kiss. (the ambiguity is not entirely my own) She escapes the quarantined apartment building only to wake on a quarantined ship on the ocean. The ship is carrying its usual crew, some doctors and researches, half an army, and survivors of the outbreak. The survivors – Angela, two SWAT type guys from the apartment, and an old confused lady from the wedding – have been tested and show no signs of the infection, so they’re free to roam on the boat. But the highly secure lab space and the even highly-er secure mysterious door that is inside of the highly secure lab space are off limits! Despite having armed guards posted outside of the locked mysterious door, somebody gets in there and releases a “subject” that carries the infection. (It was during a power outage, so you don’t have to suspend your disbelief that much, right?) The “subject” (no spoilers!) gets to a crew member in a gloriously gruesome and frenetic sequence that had me really excited, thinking that it was a return to the intense, gory action and gripping story of the first two films. (that expectation didn’t pan out so well.) With the first zombie domino toppled, more follow and peril, confusion, gore, etc. ensues. Who will survive? Is Angela a source of the infection? Is the infection really a possession? Is it a virus or a parasite? Some these questions will be kind of answered by the end of the film!
I really liked the first half of Rec 4. I was glad to see Angela again. I appreciated the subtle (and not-so-subtle) nods to the first 3 films. I loved the insane attack in the kitchen/galley (even though it employed some CGI). I was even on board with the story. I could buy that they would somehow have gotten the survivors onto the boat and they’re keeping them there to research the infection. It makes sense I guess. And I liked that the stakes skyrocketed once it was revealed that if the researchers failed, then the boat wasn’t making it back to civilization. Unfortunately, at about the halfway point the story really takes a nosedive. Contrivance after contrivance (ie: that power outage caper mentioned above) just piles up until I’m completely removed from the characters wondering how the fuck the communications guy on the boat got his superhuman hacking skills. Or why a character who is accused of being evil completely drops his non-evil persona instead of keeping up the rouse in order to avoid a shit-ton of headaches. Or why the ship’s captain had to be reminded that there is a backup engine when the main one fails. And on and on. Fortunately, though, Rec 4 really delivers the high-octane zombie (possessed?) goods. Intense tussles and buckets of blood distract from the plot holes a bit. Do they carry the film? Not quite, but it’s fun to watch them anyway.
THE FINAL CUT: Rec 4: Apocalypse is an intense and gory “fast zombie” actioner that suffers from clumsily contrived plot devices. There’s fun to be had, for sure. But don’t think too hard on character motivations or story logistics.