DirectorJaume Balagueró/Paco Plaza
Release Date(s)2007/2009/2012/2014 (September 25, 2018)
Studio(s)Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B+
- Overall Grade: A
The [REC] series consists of four Spanish horror films about zombie-like creatures that attack their victims quite viciously, allowing a worm-like parasite to continue to spread in the process. We learn that this outbreak began with Tristana Medeiros Da Souza (Javier Botet), known in Spanish as La Niña Medeiros. As the originator of the virus, she is constantly in search of someone to be the next host. Co-directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, the first two films were made entirely utilizing the found footage style, and the original film is actually one of the better horror films of recent memory.
In [REC], we are introduced to reporter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman Pablo (Pablo Rosso). As they are covering the local fire department for a documentary TV series, an emergency call comes in about an old woman screaming from inside her apartment building. During their rescue operation, the old woman bites one of them, and the carnage takes off from there. The apartment is subsequently quarantined, with Angela, Pablo, the police, and the fire department unable to leave and in never-ending danger.
A direct sequel, [REC] 2, picks up with Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor), a Ministry of Health official, and an armed GEO (Grupo Especial de Operaciones) team, investigating the apartment and attempting to get things back under control. Soon the monsters begin attacking almost everyone in the building, but as the bloodbath commences, Dr. Owen begins searching for Tristana Medeiros in hopes of finding a cure.
[REC] 3: Genesis takes place before, during, and after the events of the first two films, but in a different location. In it, Koldo (Diego Martin) and Clara (Leticia Dolera) are having an outdoor wedding with a lot of guests. Koldo’s cousin Adrian (Alex Monner) is videotaping the wedding and sees people roaming around outside. His uncle then arrives with a bandage on his hand, claiming it to be a dog bite, but it isn't long before he's revealed to be infected and proceeds to attack everyone in broad daylight.
[REC] 4: Apocalypse, which is actually a sequel to [REC] 2, sees the return of Angela, who is somehow rescued from the previously doomed apartment building and no longer contaminated. Taking place on a ship at sea, it's more of the same as the infected get violent with the passengers. However, there are revelations about the virus, much of it to do with Angela, who can’t seem to escape it no matter where she goes.
With a brief 75-minute running time, [REC] it manages to jam-pack itself with plenty of action, suspense, and intense visuals. There's so much raw energy baked into it, with characters frantically running up and down the apartment stairs as they're being chased, but excellent performances as well. The film was a commercial success, spawning an unpopular American remake entitled Quarantine.
[REC 2] is also a brutal offering. It's not quite as frightening as the original as it's hampered by already having the knowledge of what's happening inside the apartment building, but it's still good, bloody entertainment.
[REC] 3: Genesis, directed solely by Plaza, abandons the found footage style after its opening moments with a different setting and characters. Even though there's nothing new brought to the table, the pace is still feverish and the characters are likable and realistic enough to care.
[REC 4]: Apocalypse, which was helmed by Balagueró, is a more standard-looking film. It too features nothing new, but it’s a well-executed film nonetheless. Usually, when a series reaches its fourth entry, it can begin to get stale (Hellraiser, Superman, and Tremors for example), but not [REC 4]; it still has a great deal of unrestrained energy and holds nothing back.
[REC 1] (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): A/A/A
[REC 2] (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/A/A
[REC 3] (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/A/B-
[REC 4] (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/A/C
Scream Factory brings all four films together on Blu-ray for the first time in a boxed set offering entitled The [REC] Collection. Generally speaking, the picture quality for all four films is rather handsome. Sourced from pre-existing HD masters, the colors look exceptionally vivid. Black levels are deep, rich, and well-balanced, which is a good thing, especially during the darker moments of the first two films. The scenery, whether inside the quarantined apartment building, at the wedding ceremony, or on the cruise ship, has a vast amount of texturing. Skin tones also appear natural and consistent. No DNR appears to have been applied either.
The audio is also impressive. The original film offers Spanish 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD tracks, as well as an English 5.1 DTS-HD track. The other three films offer Spanish 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD tracks only. Everything sounds crisp and clear with no dropouts or other issues, no matter which option you choose. Dialogue comes in strong as the sounds of gunfire, screaming, dead bodies hitting the floor, and zombies roaring and biting their victims tend to be potent at various times. As for subtitles, the first film features them both Spanish and English, while the other three films come with English only.
Each disc is also equipped with its own set of extras, which have been ported over from previous DVD and Blu-ray incarnations. [REC] includes an audio commentary with writers/directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (in Spanish with English subtitles); The Making of [REC], which is 40 minutes of behind-the-scenes interviews; a set of crew interviews; extended scenes; deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes footage; a teaser trailer; theatrical trailers; TV spots; and a still gallery.
[REC 2] also features an audio commentary with writers/directors Balagueró and Plaza (also in Spanish with English subtitles); The Making of [REC] 2 – In an Affected World (a 2-hour documentary); A Walkthrough of the Set; [REC] 2 On Tour; Stiges Film Festival Press Conference; behind the scenes; deleted scenes; extended scenes; theatrical trailers; TV spots; and a still gallery. [REC] 3 includes [REC] 3: Genesis – Preparing A Bloody Wedding; The Making Of [REC] 3; deleted scenes; outtakes; theatrical trailers; TV spots; and a still gallery. [REC] 4 features The Making Of [REC] 4: Apocalypse; theatrical trailers; a TV spot; and a still gallery. All of this material is housed in thin slipcase packaging with individual cases for each film.
Much to delight of the fans who have had to resort to buying imports of some of the latter films, the [REC] series has finally been brought to the U.S. in its complete form in one marvelous boxed set offering. Scream Factory has done a fine job as all four films look great and offer plenty of extras. Needless to say this set is a no-brainer for horror fans.
– David Steigman