Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
How badly do you want to see rabid computer-generated zombie-monkeys die violently? Because there's not much else worth recommending in "[Rec] 4: Apocalypse", the latest entry in a found-footage horror franchise about a zombie outbreak in modern-day Spain. "[Rec] 4: Apocalypse" starts off with a promising idea. Unlike the first few films, which presented Spanish zombies as Catholic demons/monsters that shrink back when attacked with holy water and Bible passages, "[Rec] 4: Apocalypse" focuses on more secular/human monsters: army scientists.
The film's creators are fundamentally mistrustful of scientists like Dr. Ricarte (Hector Colome), a strictly-by-the-book scientist who blithely experiments on humans and monkeys without considering his reluctant test subjects' needs. Sadly, that weirdly paranoid characterization of clinical scientists isn't developed beyond a point. Instead, director Jaume Balaguero, the co-helmer of the first two "[Rec]" films, sets up an interesting villain, and then shifts gears completely. The rest of the film is a bland survival horror film that pits a bunch of forgettable human protagonists, including Angela (Manuela Velasco), a news reporter and the sole survivor of the first "[Rec]" movie, against a horde of equally disposable flesh-eaters.
First, let's deal with the movie that "[Rec] 4: Apocalypse" is, then double-back to the movie it promises to be. "[Rec] 4: Apocalypse" is, by and large, a predictable, and needlessly ugly-looking horror film. Angela wakes up after the events of "[Rec]" and discovers she's been pre-emptivley quarantined on a ship by a group of army scientists. She's there because scientists like Dr. Ricarte are trying to make a retrovirus to stop the zombie outbreak. But inevitably, one of the scientists' other test subjects—a zombie-monkey—gets loose, and Angela and the ship's crew must fight for their lives.
This sounds fairly basic—because it is. "[Rec] 4: Apocalypse" is easily the laziest in the film series. While "[Rec] 3: Genesis" was the first to ditch the franchises's lame found-footage conceit, "Apocalypse" still features pointlessly nauseating hand-held, dimly lit cinematography. In fact, the film quickly devolves into a collection of pointless confrontations featuring bland characters who are only interesting when their lives are in danger. Even Angela, a heroine that's set up to be the "[Rec]" series's answer to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in the "Alien" movies, isn't especially compelling. She spends a lot of the movie figuring out what's going, then capably dispatches monsters with the help of capable military men like Lucas (Cripulo Cabezas). Explosions, blood, and gore fly around them, and then you go home. There's nothing wrong with the film's formula-based storytelling, but rather its creators bland execution. Balaguero and co-writer Manu Diez never set emotional stakes that are so deep that they can't just pull them up on a scene-by-scene basis.