Wednesday, August 26, 2015

[REC] Marathon

This past Sunday my girlfriend and I decided to put the laziest day of the week to good use by staying in to embark on a horror movie marathon of the popular '[REC]' films. A decision fuelled by my increasing desire to see the fourth and supposedly final instalment. I even went as far as making the conscious decision to skip the third film in favour of story continuity and also to hasten my approach to '[REC] 4'. I share with you now my thoughts and opinions, but be warned as there are some minor spoilers regarding characters and plot details. 

[REC] (2007) ★★★
An emergency call allows a TV reporter and her cameraman to follow a responding fire department crew to an apartment building. Soon after their arrival they're locked inside along with the numerous residents and something none of them could have imagined.

By 2007 the found footage style was far from new, but surprisingly this entry from Spain utilises the confined surroundings and graphic violence to strike lasting fear into the hearts of viewers; myself included. The plot surrounding an unknown viral infection, which renders it's victims into mindless blood crazed state is also nothing entirely new. However it's the unique spin combing another popular sub-genre which sets '[REC]' apart. There's a gut wrenching intensity throughout the majority of the film, leading into the final scene in which a profound and lingering sense of evil is present from the moment we enter. 

[REC] 2 (2009) ★★★
Beginning directly from where the original ends, a special-opps team escorts a supposed medical officer to asses the carnage inside the now infested apartment building and more importantly to obtain a blood sample from the elusive patient zero.

Like many great horror films, the original left us wanting more. That's doesn't necessarily mean we should always get it. Although I will say my first viewing of this sequel did leave me satisfied. Unfortunately '[REC] 2' does not hold up well to repeat viewings. While the central idea of demonic possession taking the form of an aggressive viral infection is explored further, it's simply in many ways a repeat of what we saw previously. Granted that the level of blood and gore is ramped up considerably and a final sequence filled with some very eerie visual trickery, it's rather flat in comparison; thanks mainly to the addition of pointless characters. Overall it is however a decent continuation in terms of plot which definitely warrants at least one viewing.  

[REC] 4: Apocalypse (2014) ★★★
In this apparent final chapter we take to high seas on board an oil tanker a short time after our TV reporter (who I should note by now is named √Āngela Vidal) was rescued from her terrifying ordeal inside the infamous apartment building. Isolated from the outside world she is thoroughly examined by a team of medical scientists. However, the seed of the demonic virus may no longer be dwelling inside her. 

Departing with the found footage style for a more conventional appearance, which kinda renders the film's title redundant; what we here is a mostly typical B-grade survival horror movie. An element of mystery, moments of dark humour and nods to genre classics are enough to keep the viewer entertained, but it's a rather unimaginative film overall. Will this be the last one? Probably not, but like the many fans of this series I'll be very curious to see where the filmmakers go from here should they decide to continue. 


[REC] 3: Genesis (2012) ★★★½
Perhaps it was the feeling of underdevelopment left by the last film, but the nagging feeling to finish this series would not go away. Fast forward two days later, I found myself doing exactly that. Deviating from the plot of the previous two instalments this lighter sequel follows a young couple's wedding day which takes a very horrific turn when guest start showing signs of the infection.

While there's a number of little connections to the original which fans will have fun picking up; '[REC]' 3 is a solid stand-alone film. Woven between a barrage of gore and regular moments of black humour is a sweet little love story between bride and groom who are determined to honour their vowels to each other despite the chaos surrounding them. The shift in tone may not been to every fan's liking, but I think it's a welcome break in the series as it allows the viewer to relax with some mindless fun as oppose to a more intense and frighting experience. I say '[REC] 3' was a smart move. If it clicks with you like I did with me, you'll find yourself going back to it more than once. 

Overall I sum up the experience of watching three out of the fours films in quick succession as highly enjoyable. After the second film I was left feeling rather fatigued, but thankfully a six-inch meatball sub put gave me the much needed boost to carry on. This is one marathon of horror I would recommend. In retrospect I think watching all four movies would have been a better choice in terms of entertainment, but the alternative approach I took is well worth trying out.

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