April is here (and quickly slipping away from me, it seems…) and it’s time to check back with the Zombie Apocalypse… just to see if it’s creeping up on us or not, mind you… with a look at the recent Region 2 UK release of the Spanish Zombie Apocalypse thriller “[REC] 4: Apocalypse”.
The synopsis reads “Barcelona TV reporter, Angela Vidal, wakes up in a high-security quarantine facility aboard a ship at sea, sole survivor and witness to the horrific events inside the apartment building of the first film. She seems to have only spotty memories of what happened at the end of her ordeal there. But does she secretly remember what happened to her? Is she carrying the virus? Distrust spreads through the freighter while new, even more deadly forms of evil spread even faster among the researchers and crew. Soon that Evil is loose again, but will she survive this new assault or become one of its twisted victims?”
I’ve enjoyed this franchise so far, so it’s nice to get another offering to sate this zombie fan’s need for a little gory fun in the world of the Zombie Apocalypse now that “The Walking Dead” is on its hiatus till fall. Sure… sure.. there’s “IZombie”, but that’s just toooo much of a comedy. Neko wants scary gross zombie fun… 😉
So… will I get it with this one? All signs look promising… so if you wanna know if it’s a gore fest that ought to show up in your DVD player anytime soon, just “Read On” and let a certain crazy movie obsessed Catgirl tell you all about it. 😉
So… the nicest thing about “[REC] 4: Apocalypse” is the return of spunky TV reporter Ángela Vidal (played once again by Manuela Velasco) who previously survived the original film only to end up possessed by the evil demonic parasite that had inhabited Tristana Medeiros at the end of the second movie. Ouch!!
By the start of our 4th film, we find her bloody and terrified… supposedly the only survivor of the outbreak where she gets saved by the final bunch of SWAT guys from the “Grupo Especial de Operaciones” sent in to rig the apartment building for demolition to end the horror and kill the infected before the outbreak can spread. They save her… fighting their way past the crazed remnants of those still inside while the bombs tick down…. and guess what? I’m sooooo proud of my adorable wife!! Carolyn actually remembered those earlier films and blurted out… “Wait a minute!! She’s that TV reporter lady with the evil worm in her guts!!” ❤ Awwwwww!! ❤ She really was paying attention when we watched them!! I just knew someday I’d make her a fan of my rather goofy movie choices!!
They fade to black…. and then Ángela wakes up in a medical observation room, just like Mila Jovovich at the end of “Resident Evil”. But unlike deserted the Raccoon City Hospital, she’s not alone…. Turns out she’s on a ship at sea. A freighter hastily converted into a quarantine facility where some brainy doctors can try to get a handle on just what the hell happened back in Barcelona before it happens again. I kept thinking… “Any minute now. These poor boobs are gonna turn their backs and Ángela’s gonna go all freaky cannibal on them…. just you wait….” But nope. The doctors do this blood test and seems she’s all clear. Say what? Wait a minute… where the heck did the evil thingee get to then?
Don’t worry… we’ll get back to it later. For now Ángela finds that her two rescuers, Guzmán (played by Paco Manzanedo) and Lucas (played by Críspulo Cabezas) are on board as well. Seems nobody is going anywhere until they can figure out exactly what they are dealing with… if they are ever allowed to leave at all. That would be the job of the medical team, under Doctor Ricarte (played by Héctor Colomé). He’s convinced they can engineer a vaccine to stop the virus given half a chance… Problem is, he’s a scientist. There’s no room in his brain to even consider the possibility of some kind of parasite spreading a viral “demonic possession”. That’s gonna cost him…
From this point forward, “[REC] 4” uses its claustrophobic setting to do what most stories like this do. Our heroine and her companions are trapped, limiting everybody’s movements and giving them no chance to escape once that contagion escapes the lab and begins to spread among the crew. Sure it’s an old idea for a horror plot… but that’s because it always works.
One crazy infected lab monkey running amok later and that just what our cast has to deal with too. Like I say… nothing new… nothing novel… but certainly effective enough to do the job. This time out our girl Ángela has lots more to do too. No longer that “girly” victim we remember from the first two films, she seems to have dug deep and tapped into her own inner strength to become much tougher this time out. She’s determined to survive, even once the medical team recovers the footage from her camera showing that horrible worm thing sliding down her gullet to take up housekeeping in her tummy. Naturally they figure the best chance to make that vaccine is to cut her open and get some DNA from the plague source itself. Problem is… Ángela’s pretty sure the worm has already moved on looking for a better host… and her spotty memories won’t tell her where to. Is she right? Or is she still possessed… and one heck of a demonically evil convincing actress? Time for some “cat and mouse” games as the mercs manning the ship chase her and our two SWAT guys around the boat dodging the rising population of possessed zombies. Oodles of the red stuff flows freely and I can definitely tell you, in the process, I did indeed get my zombie gore fix from this one…. 😈
Plenty of people get chomped on… Zombies get shot… get stabbed and hacked… even get chewed to bits by an outboard motor in some gooey hand-to-hand fighting… before the big climax as our heroine and our heroes decide to abandon ship before the obligatory “self destruct” option blows the boat to Kingdom Come. Like I said. Nothing new here. But it’s done with good style and suitable panache as to make for satisfying Zombie Apocalypse storytelling.
So? Our worm/ demon/ thingee? Yeah… well once you figure out that our heroine Ángela really is clean and “worm free”, it’s not too hard to figure out that there really are only two other choices for it to host in… and since it had to happen quickly before they left the apartment when she and that potential victim were alone, you really will easily figure out who it now inhabits. Neko’s not gonna spoil things for you… but trust me, you won’t really be surprised by the eventual “big reveal”….
So how do I rate this one? Hmmmm? Well… as simple as the story really is, its nowhere as original or good as the earlier films in the series. Fair to say that right up front. It’s a reasonably good sequel… but just a basic “zombie story” this time out. Good acting… good setting and cinematography… about the only disappointment was the failure to really expand on the story behind it all. We learn nothing new about the demon… or it’s first host Tristana Medeiros or even what the ultimate goal of the Evil really is. I would have so liked learning some more of that kind of stuff. Still… our ending leaves room for yet another sequel, so who knows?
I guess then I’d rate this one as 3 “Meows”… Good simple zombie action… but sorta “zombie light” overall with a storyline that hits all the expected points but which could easily have been improved by a little more addition of the kind of stuff fans of the earlier films would have liked to see. Sounds about right. Worth a look definitely if… like this crazy Catgirl… zombies are your thing. 😉
The DVD? Well for me, that was the Region 2 UK DVD this time out. Presented widescreen, letterboxed and with excellent separate English subtitles. I picked it up for right around 12$ US, a fine choice should you want, but since then have learned a Region 1 release is soon on the horizon should you prefer something more domestic to feed your DVD player. There are also German, French, as well as Spanish editions out there… all of which lack those crucial subtitles, unfortunately.
As always, I’ve gone ahead and snagged us a “zombie-rific” Trailer to get everybody in the mood for all the “living impaired” fun and games!! Enjoy! 😉