You could try and argue that [Rec] isn’t one of the best found footage films ever, but you’d be fighting a losing battle. The 2007 chiller managed a near perfect execution of story and format in a film that gives viewers a likable heroine, an interesting mythology and multiple scenes of pure terror. A sequel followed two years later, and while it wasn’t quite as strong it once again delivered lots of scares alongside a developing story. Both films used found footage and both managed it with extreme effectiveness. but a decision was made to drop the tool for the [Rec]3: Genesis, and that decision along with a shift to a more comedic tone resulted in a disappointment.

Jaume Balagueró, the co-director/co-writer of those first two films (as well as the director of the excellent, blackly comic thriller Sleep Tight), skipped out on part three but is now back in control for [Rec]4: Apocalypse. The film is said to be the final installment in the series, and as the production still (courtesy of Bloody Disgusting) above shows it also promises to be another extremely bloody affair.

Check out the first trailer below.

First thought? It’s not quite as epic in scope as I would have expected and hoped. “Apocalypse” implies something grander than just a boat trip gone bad, but it looks like Balagueró recognized what worked so well in the first two films and is trying to recapture it. He’s jettisoned the found footage element but is still aiming for the claustrophobic and insular setting that helped make the first two films so intense and terrifying.

The question becomes can he recreate that feeling without the confines of the found footage camera lens? Lead character and demonic infection mythology aside it might be difficult to distinguish this from any other darkly-lit monster flick set amid cramped hallways and dripping steam pipes. Death Ship? Ghost Ship? Virus? Halloween-themed episode of The Love Boat?

I’m not a found footage fan in general, but Balagueró has a proven track record with the format so it will be missed here. And not for nothing, but does the [Rec] (as in “record”) title even make sense anymore? That said, I am a fan of this mythology and the heroine at its core. Angela (Manuela Velasco) is a spunky lead, and while the second film left her in a very bad state of mind/body/spirit it seems she may have been cured (healed?) judging by the trailer. Not completely, obviously, but rather than being a lead zombie villain she looks to be on the run from the infected yet again.

[Rec]4: Apocalypse premieres October 3rd as the opening night film at the Sitges Film Festival. Per Variety, Filmax may release it worldwide on October 31st in an effort to limit piracy. A nightmare cruise on Halloween night? Yes please.

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