THE [REC] Collection: [REC] 4: Apocalypse Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Jaume Balagueró
Written by Jaume Balagueró and Manu Díez
2014, 95 minutes, Rated R
Manuela Velasco as Ángela Vidal
Paco Manzanedo as Guzmán
Héctor Colomé as Dr. Ricarte
Ismael Fritschi as Nic
Crispulo Cabezas as Lucas
Mariano Venancio as Captain Ortega
[REC] 4: Apocalypse returns to the apartment building setting as Ángela, the sole survivor, is rescued from her nightmare. She awakens in an undisclosed location under medical supervision without much memory of what has happened. She tries to escape her surroundings but quickly discovers she is quarantined once again, this time on a large ship in the middle of the ocean. Scientists aboard are working to isolate the virus and develop an antidote before it can spread any further. As should be expected by this point in the franchise, something goes wrong and the virus is set loose infecting members of the crew. The ship is headed into a large storm and time is running out to find a cure. Ángela just wants to go home at this point and honestly, I hope she gets to.
Jaume Balagueró returns to the series he helped to create and directs this entry solo with strong results. Written by Balagueró and Manu Díez, the story explores every inch of this large ship with action taking place along the bridge, below decks and inside the engine room. Manuela Velasco is back once again as Ángela Vidal, the tireless woman once in search of a simple puff piece for a television show, now caught up in a fight for the survival of the human race. Velasco continues to impress with her ability to handle everything thrown at her and she makes a compelling lead. This time around she is paired with Ismael Fritschi and Paco Manzanedo as shipmates looking for answers. She shares great onscreen chemistry with her co-stars and continues to carry the picture with ease.
Shot in a traditional cinematic style rather than the found-footage angle of the first two films, [REC] 4 serves as a satisfying conclusion to the franchise. The unique setting opens up a lot of possibilities and returns viewers to the claustrophobic confines missing from [REC] 3. This film prefers action over the previous installment’s comedic spin and the change is a welcome one. Ángela is transformed from a mere survivor to more of an active fighter and it is an appreciated evolution of the character. There are a number of intense sequences that keep the plot moving at a brisk pace before pulling out all the stops for the grand finale. Not everything is wrapped up with a bow, but we leave our hero in a good position, one of hope.
Video and Audio:
The first two films in the series are presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with strong results. Everything has a crispness to it that is in keeping with the purported source materials (news footage). [REC] 3 begins in the 1.85:1 format before ditching the found-footage angle and switching to a more cinematic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. [REC]4 maintains the 2.35:1 presentation throughout. All four movies look terrific with rich colors and solid black levels. A lot happens in the shadows and these transfers are up for the challenge.
The original [REC] features a Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track, joined by a DTS-HD MA 5.1 English language dub. The options are all quite aggressive and immersive in the action. The Spanish 5.1 mix is the way to go here, as the English dub is ab bit distracting. The three sequels each receive DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 tracks with similar results. The 2.0 tracks are serviceable but the expanded mix is preferable.
English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
The franchise is spread across four discs with each entry receiving its own platter with bonus features. All of the supplements on these discs are in Spanish with English subtitles.
Disc One: [REC]
Writers/ directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza provide an audio commentary (in Spanish with English subtitles) that is highly informative and detailed in its delivery. The two have a lot to say without talking over each other and never lapse into long gaps of silence. They point out difficult shots, extended takes and discuss their approach to the material.
The Making of [REC] (41 minutes) is a fast moving behind-the-scenes look at the work that went into creating this picture. There is a lot of on-set footage taken from production intercut with corresponding clips from the finished movie. There is an extended interview with the directors intercut throughout and we also get a look at the rehearsal process and the making of the special make-up effects. This is a well-made documentary that is definitely worth checking out.
The film’s editor, cinematographer and sound designer sit down for a series of crew interviews (45 minutes). Each discusses specific challenges they faced in doing their jobs and how they created the end results. The segment moves at a steady pace and provides a lot of information, but the participants are never identified by name or title.
A short selection of deleted scenes (3 minutes) gives a glimpse at some material cut for pacing reasons. The scenes are fairly inconsequential and it is easy to see why they were cut.
A collection of extended scenes (30 minutes) provide additional background on some of the supporting characters. Fans of the film will find a lot to like here as we get some interesting bits of dialogue and some new scenarios at the firehouse as well as in the apartment building.
Behind-the-scenes footage (44 minutes) is a self-explanatory series of clips featuring the moments leading up to shooting. We get a lot of prep work and on-set rehearsals as well as some audition tapes. Actress Manuela Velasco sits down for an interview in which she discusses the challenges of shooting in the dark for the film’s finale.
Trailers including a teaser and a collection of TV spots provide a look at how the film was marketed.
A still gallery (62 images) offers a series of promotional and behind-the-scenes images. An offering of international poster art is also included.
Disc Two: [REC] 2
Writers/ directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza provide an audio commentary that is highly informative and insightful.
In an Affected World (118 minutes) – the making of [REC] 2 is a feature-length look behind the scenes at the effort that went into creating this film. We start with the directors discussing their intent with this sequel and quickly move on to a production meeting discussing a series of exterior shots that open the picture. Various members of the cast and crew provide input regarding the challenges of the production. We get a lot of rehearsal footage and prep work from the various designers. A thorough look at the special make-up effects work is also provided and is a particular highlight of the documentary.
A collection of behind-the-scenes (56 minutes) footage provides a detailed look at the work that goes into creating several of the film’s key action set pieces. The rehearsals, the blocking, the special effects – everything gets covered here and then a clip of the final scene as it appears in the film is provided.
A trio of deleted scenes (4 minutes) shows more of the riot police searching the building as well as the one moment of English language dialogue courtesy of a CNN reporter at the scene.
Extended scenes (4 minutes) featuring the teens before they enter the building provide a little more background to the characters.
A Walkthrough of the Set (9 minutes) delivers a tour of the central location with the art director discussing the challenges of her job. We see the construction of the penthouse set and get a look at all of the production design that was involved. Many of the location tours are accompanied by a picture-in-picture pairing with relevant clips from the finished film.
[REC] 2 On Tour (9 minutes) follows the filmmakers to the Venice and Paris film festivals. Photo ops and parties are showcased along with director introductions to the screenings.
Stiges Film Festival press conference (11 minutes) is a panel discussion featuring the filmmakers promoting the picture to the press,
The theatrical trailer is included here, paired with some TV spots.
A still gallery (4 minutes) plays as a silent slideshow and features various production stills, behind-the-scenes images and marketing materials.
Disc Three: [REC] 3
Preparing a Bloody Wedding (118 minutes) is a feature-length documentary that sheds light on all aspects of the production. Starting with a decision to shoot both subjective cameras and a more traditional cinematic approach, the director and cinematographer establish the level of detail viewers can expect from this production. From there we move onto the wardrobe department, the sound design and the creation of the perfect horror wedding. There are numerous interviews with members of the cast and crew and a detailed look at the special make-up effects.
The Making of [REC] 3 (23 minutes) comprises interviews overlapping from the longer documentary but presented in an abbreviated version. Interviews with the cast and crew are intercut with footage from the set as well as clips from the finished film.
Deleted scenes (24 minutes) start off with a traditional wedding video of ceremony highlights. This is a well-made video, but I can see why it was cut, as it really doesn’t fit within the confines of the movie’s structure. From there we move onto a collection of scenes of the groom trying to escape through the air ducts and maneuver the grounds finding survivors. These are a bit redundant and it’s easy to see why they were cut.
An assembly of outtakes (3 minutes) featuring flubbed lines and other silliness sheds a light on the levity of making the movie.
The original trailer is paired with some TV spots for your viewing pleasure.
A still gallery (4 minutes) includes production stills, f/x shots, behind-the-scenes images and a look at the marketing material.
Disc Four: [REC] 4
The Making of [REC] 4 (28 minutes) is hosted by actress Manuela Velasco in a nice touch that echoes the events of the original film. The director and cinematographer discuss the challenges of shooting on an actual ship and the need to build some additional sets. We get a lot of behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the finished film. This is another well-made documentary but could stand to be a bit longer.
The film’s original trailer is presented here along with some TV spots.
A still gallery (5 minutes) of production photos, publicity shots and the advertising campaign is also included.
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