by Brody Rossiter
Melding moody European horror with visceral skin ripping action, [REC] Apocalypse fuses the finer details of its three prequels to create an unsettlingly bleak yet reinvigorating entry into the series of Spanish flesh-eating features.
Beginning where the first and second films left off in a quarantined Barcelona apartment block, director Jaume Balagueró strives to re-establish the storytelling canon that was abandoned within the [REC] 3; a standalone excursion to a wedding day invaded by walking dead and filled with bloodthirsty horrors.
Reporter Angela Vidal, infamous for being dragged ominously into the darkness by a “possessed” creature lurking in the attic of the deadly apartment block (the scene is perhaps horror’s most effective use of the “night-vision” aesthetic), emerges from six hours’ worth of unseen terrors before awakening within a mysterious quarantine facility aboard a vast tanker floating in the middle of the ocean. Joined by the men who saved her, Angela is eventually cleared of infection and allowed her freedom – however, roaming the halls of the labyrinthine hull quickly becomes a brutal fight for survival in the closest of dark, gory quarters.
Situating a horror narrative within the confines of a ship is not unique, yet the rusty, steel-lined interiors of the claustrophobic tanker still carries a good deal of charm. The tanker is essentially a floating island inhabited by heavily armed Special Forces, sailors, and those exposed to the ferocious virus that has claimed countless lives throughout the franchise. There’s a clunky, oil-stained mechanicalness to the picture’s aesthetic, which, combined with the unflattering greenish filter that taints much of the footage, forges an incredibly unpleasant and inhospitable environment to inhabit – especially when life at sea takes a turn for the virulent worse.
A wild and frenzied voyage that sails the [REC] franchise into unflinching action-horror territory, Apocalypse is a worthy addition that ties up many loose ends whilst leaving the door ajar. Fans can ultimately be the judge of how successfully the film resolves the subject matter of the first and still finest entry of the series, but the relentless ferocity of this gruesome cruise is undeniably difficult to escape.