The [REC] Collection - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    The [REC] Collection



    [​IMG]

    Movie: :4stars:
    Video: :4.5stars:
    Audio: :4.5stars:
    Extras: :4stars:
    Final Score: :4stars:


    WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM ALL 4 FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW

    [​IMG] Movie
    Probably one of the most under appreciated and under marketed horror film sets of the September/October time period is Scream Factory’s release of the [REC] flicks a few weeks back. If you’re reading the back of the synopsis on the box or the upcoming reviews and something sounds familiar, it should. The movie Quarantine was an American remake of the first Spanish [REC], with a bigger budget and better known cast, but the original series is just something to behold. I’ll fully admit that the first two films drastically outclass the second pair of sequels, bu the entire 4 film set is loads of horror fun, and the first two films are true horror classics in their own rights.


    [REC] :4.5stars:
    I usually HATE found footage style movies. The Blair Witch Project was kind of nifty as it was new and unique at the time, but the plethora of movies that followed in its footsteps routinely beat the genre into the ground to the point of no return. However, there is a gem hiding among all of them, and that would be 2007’s [REC] (which got it’s name from the old hand held camera “recording” icon...look at the cover and you’ll see what I mean), a Spanish flick that truly was terrifying and unique out of all the other found footage movies that had made its way to cinemas over the years. The film is short and sweet, clocking in at barely 78 minutes, but it really does make the most of those 78 minutes. Angela (Manuela Velasco) is a news reporter who has just followed the police to a local apartment building where an older woman has been acting erratically. Firemen go in to rescue her, only to have the police shut the entire building down with people inside when it’s made known that the woman is carrying some type of virus that is giving her superhuman strength.

    [REC] is what happens when humans are faced with a fast acting virus that has a large potential for getting out of control. That means quarantining the entire building (ironically, the American remake was titled Quarantine, which was a pretty good movie in its own right), lock it down with snipers, and anyone left inside is forced to survive by their own measures. Angela, the firemen, and several tenants are now trapped inside the building with nowhere to go, and only Angela’s camera to record the events that happen.

    I kind of want to say that [REC] is a bad movie due to how much I loathe found footage style films, but it really is a fantastic film. The 78 minute film gets straight to the point and doesn’t over stay it’s welcome in the slightest. The movie is fast paced, showing some incredible camera shifts that really take jump scares to a whole new level. Due to everything being pitch black and coated in shadows, the movements of the infected are hidden outside of view till the last second, and the sound design takes over as a device to increase the scares and direction of the movie. My only complaint with the film is that the cameraman (Pablo) is willing to record all the events WAAAAAAAAAAAAY past the point any sane person would have ditched the camera and ran screaming from the room. I know it’s a plot point to keep the cameras rolling, but it’s just the logical portion of my brain trying to work out a gimmick.

    All in all, [REC] is a terrifying film and one of the best found footage films I’ve seen to date. The Jennifer Carpenter American remake titled Quarantine tried its best to copy [REC] almost verbatim, but I still have to say that the Spanish original is superior. I really did like Quarantine, but [REC] just got the tone, the pacing, and the jump scares JUUUUUUUUUUUST right. It’s a great little flick that is a must see for any horror fan doing a Halloween style binge watch for the month of October.

    [REC] 2 :4.5stars:
    A mere 3 years after the 2007 film, directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza are back with a sequel, and while it doesn’t really bring anything new and exciting to the genre, it is a very effective and scary flick that makes use of low tech dread to push the film along. Still taking its cues from The Blair Witch Project and the like, [REC] 2 starts mere minutes after the end of the first film. The same apartment complex that was quarantined in [REC] is now being investigated by a SWAT team and a Ministry of Health official who seems to have an ulterior motive. It’s not until they are let into the still quarantined building that the Ministry of Health official reveals the ulterior motive in mind, and with the SWAT team and everyone else trapped inside until the mission is complete, no is safe. As the team’s numbers start to dwindle, it becomes obvious that this mission is only going to leave one person alive, and that person is the one who orchestrated the entire event.

    The story is simple, the plot very similar to the first movie (at least in regards to the rage zombies popping up and terrorizing the people), but with some distinct differences. The military SWAT style team dynamic adds for a much more action packed film, with guns, fights and more of an aggressive take on the interactions between monsters and humans. The flip side of that is, the zombies are more plentiful as they’ve had time to “breed” and spread to the rest, and their attacks are more furious violent than the jump scares of [REC].

    [REC] and [REC] 2 are fantastic book end films for each other. Both of them start within minutes of each other and manage to tell the same story from two different perspectives. The first film is completely told from the point of view of innocent bystanders trapped in a building with something they don’t understand, while the sequel tells the story from a much more clinical point of view from someone who knows what’s going on. The funny thing is, despite the use of the same building, the same interactions, and the same zombies, the two movies actually WORK and are just as fun despite their linking similarities. Balaguero and Plaza have a touch for making even the quietest moments filled with sheer dread and tension, while the bigger action pieces are more terrifying by what you DON’T see rather than what you do see. It’s a tightly done horror film that plays off the short run time of the original, only clocking in at 85 minutes so as not to over stay its welcome. This is actually a huge boon to the movie, as too many horror movies try to flesh out backstory and mindless trivia bits in order to make it longer, while the [REC] films use the straight forward nature of found footage concepts and just lets them end naturally instead of stringing you along.

    [​IMG] [REC] 3: Genesis: :3stars:
    As with most sequels, there comes a time of change and shifting of quality. [REC] and [REC] 2 are some of the highest rated found footage films out there, but it’s hard to keep the same level of quality as the previous two films in just about any franchise. It’s diminishing returns and something that naturally happens. I guess it may be due to the fact that the team of Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza decided to not come back together, but instead Paco Plaza is left alone at the director’s chair to manage things. In a bold movie, Plaza decides to ditch the found footage aspect of the films, and instead go to a more traditional third person point of view to tell the narrative. It’s actually quite a smart concept if you think about it. The first two films worked very well with the found footage style of film making (probably the best in that particular type of genre), but you can only get away with the same gimmicks for so long before they become old and stale. Plaza shifting to a more neutral filming style allows the series to take new risks and new changes, while still keeping the creepy aspects of the zombies, but not trodding over the footsteps of the two films that came before it.

    Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin) are about to tie the knot on their happy day, only to see some strange events at the ceremony. There are police cruisers (and officers) milling around outside, a few people in the background start shouting and suddenly the hammer comes down. The cops are quarantining the building and everyone in the wedding is trapped inside not knowing what is going on. We the audience are already clued in due to seeing the other two movies, but Clara and Koldo now have to come face to face with the realization that they’re sitting in a minefield of potential rage zombies and one by one the wedding party starts to lose its members in the darkness and muck.

    To make matters even more interesting, [REC] 3: Genesis is really a horror comedy rather than the straight up jump scare nature of [REC] and [REC] 2. There’s a goofy little love story intertwined with the blood and guts, and the movie is really more satirical, winking and nodding at he camera as Koldo and Clara make their way back to each other through the sea of flesh eating zombies. I’m not sure it’s TOTALLY effective, but I rather like [REC] 3. The comedy aspect isn’t over the top, and the blood and guts are make all the more visible with more color and more lighting due to the traditional 3rd person camera angles vs. the found footage makeup that you’re initially expecting. It’s actually kind of shocking at first, as the film starts out with a really cruddy looking found footage style look, but in one fell swoop (and a hilariously nasty line) the camera is thrown away and we get to see the action in a more traditional way.

    [REC] 4: Apocalypse: :3stars:
    [REC] 4: Apocalypse brings back the OTHER director of the due to do a solo project in the franchise. Paco Plaza takes the break this time and Jaume Balaguero comes back to the director’s chair to do his own unique take on the franchise. I almost wonder if that is why the last two films are a step below the first two film in quality. Was it it because they had run out of ideas as most sequels do? Or was it because they weren’t working together as a team, with the whole “greater than the sum of their parts” theory at work. I’m not sure, but needless to say, [REC] 4 is another DECENT horror movie that just doesn’t live up to how awesome the original 2 films were.

    Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco), the spunky young reporter from the first movie, is back once again. This time the film takes place directly after the first two as the reporter is exited from the scene by the SWAT team from [REC] 2 and transported to a tanker that has been outfitted to continue the quarantine miles off shore. Little do the team know that Angela actually carries the seed of the plague in her, and soon their little quarantined tanker is home to another outbreak of the deadly rabies like zombie virus.

    Like [REC] 3: Genesis, [REC] 4: Apocalypse gets rid of the found footage nature of the first two movies and goes for a more traditional approach. The use of the tanker creates a whole different environment here, getting rid of the apartment building and the wedding reception of the 3rd movie for a steel and wood setting that’s much larger in scope than anything we’ve seen before, with fight scenes that are bigger, badder and more impressive than the tight “run and gun” nature of the claustrophobic environment that the other movie are privy too. Unfortunately this also creates a rather bland and boring set of action sequences as the interior of the tanker looks pretty much the same. Not a big detriment, but it does put the film about on par with [REC] 3: Genesis.

    I kind of like Apocalypse as well. It’s unique, and is more like a Resident Evil movie than the rest of them. The action is fun, and Manuela Velasco is quite likable as the reporter turned survivalist, but the film’s uniqueness is no longer there. [REC] and the other two sequels felt really unique with the found footage style of filming, and the horror/comedy nature of the 3rd film, but Apocalypse does nothing to differentiate itself from the rest of the apocalyptic zombie movies out there. Again, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it does rather feel less unique than it’s predecessor’s.




    Rated R for bloody horror violence and language / Rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing images and pervasive language / Rated R for strong bloody horror violence and some language / Rated R for strong horror violence/gore, and language




    Video: :4.5stars:
    [​IMG] [REC] / [REC] 2: :4stars:

    Even though the 4 films look EXTREMELY similar in many aspects, they are separated by the found footage stylings of the first two and the more traditional third person camera work of the final two films. [REC] and [REC] 2 are both shot digitally on digital handicams, and as such you can be sure that there is some distortion and artifacting going on from the low quality cameras. That being said, the movies really do look quite good, with a really REALLY dark look to it that works for the scary vibe of the rage zombies coming out of the darkness. There’s some natural banding, a little bit of crush, but overall this is a very crisp and clean looking transfer that eeks just about everything you possibly can out of the source material. I have no idea what the resolution of the master is for the two movies (Scream Factory didn’t mention), but for all intents and purposes, it looks about as good as it will ever look in my opinion.


    [REC] 3: Genesis / [REC] 4: Apocalypse :4.5stars:
    [REC] 3 and [REC] 4 look more similar than different due to the filming styles employed, and while the 3rd movie has a lot more colors due to the location of the wedding ceremony, they are both rather bleak films that employ hints of yellow and blue-green throughout the movies. Blacks are deep and inky, and while there is some crush going on, the banding of the found footage style predecessor’s are nearly completely gone. Fine detailing across faces and bodies are excellent, and you can see bright splashes of blood on the bodies that shows up nicely against the grim color palette. Overall these are VERY nice looking films, and while the dark nature of the series does rob SOME detail, they look quite amazing in motion and the best I’ve ever seen them (even better than the Spanish imports if I do say so myself).




    Audio: :4.5stars:
    [​IMG]
    The one thing all 4 films share equally is a truly stunning audio mix to listen to. All 4 films have 5.1 DTS-HD MA tracks in Spanish, as well as 2.0 DTS-HD MA downmixes for night listening (also in Spanish). However, the first film has a 5.1 DTS-HD MA English dub as well (the only film to have an English dub), and while it’s decently done, the Spanish track is much more consistent with the rest of the Spanish tracks due to the much better original dialog. The first two films have a really claustrophobic and 360 degree sound mix that comes from being in such tight quarters in the apartment buildings, but even the 3rd and 4th films have a sort of kinetic energy that just shifts around the room as the zombies attack from all directions. There’s a pulsating bass line to the movies that doesn’t let up till the movies end, and the dialog is perfectly intelligible, despite some of the weird situations that the handheld cameras are put in throughout the movies.









    Extras: :4stars:
    [​IMG]

    [REC]
    • Audio Commentary with writers/directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (In Spanish with English Subtitles)
    • The Making of REC
    • Crew Interviews
    • Extended Scenes
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Behind the Scenes Footage
    • Teaser
    • Theatrical Trailers
    • TV Spots
    • Still Gallery

    [REC] 2
    • Audio Commentary with writers/directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (In Spanish with English Subtitles)
    • The Making of REC 2 – In An Affected World
    • Behind the Scenes
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Extended Scenes
    • A Walkthrough of the Set
    • REC 2 On Tour
    • Sitges Film Festival Press Conference
    • Theatrical Trailers
    • TV Spots
    • Still Gallery

    [REC] 3: Genesis
    • REC: Genesis – Preparing A Bloody Wedding
    • The Making of REC 3
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Outtakes
    • Theatrical Trailers
    • TV Spots
    • Still Gallery

    [REC] 4: Apocalypse
    • The Making of REC: APOCALYPSE
    • Theatrical Trailers
    • TV Spot
    • Still Gallery







    Final Score: :4stars:


    While the [REC] collection HAS been available overseas, it has only been available through fairly expensive imports and the need to have a region free Blu-ray player to play the discs, so Scream Factory bringing the entire collection over with tons of extras and top notch video encodes makes this a very special release. The extras are truly top notch, and the package is complete with a bit chipboard box to house the 4 films in, and some really snazzy artwork. The first two films are really the ones you MUST own, but the 3rd and 4th [REC] films are still well worth owning for horror fans, and the box set is is a steal the $50 being asked for it right now. Highly Recommended as a wildly fun (and mostly unique) Spanish horror series.



    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jonathan D. Mellor, Oscar Zafra, Diego Martin, Leticia Dolera, Paco Manzanedo, Hector Colome
    Directed by Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza ([REC], [REC] 2 / Paco Plaza [Rec] 3 / Jaume Balaguero [REC] 4
    Written by: Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza, Luiso Berdejo / Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza, Manu Diez / Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza / Jaume Balaguero, Manu Diez
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC / 2.35:1 AVC / 2.35:1 AVC
    Audio: Spanish: DTS-HD MA 5.1 (All 4) , English DTS-HD MA 5.1 ([REC] only), Spanish DTS-HD MA 2.0 (All 4)
    Subtitles:
    English
    Studio: Scream Factory
    Rated: R (All 4)
    Runtime
    : 78 Minutes / 85 Minutes / 80 Minutes / 95 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: September 25th, 2018







    Recommendation: Highly Recommended
     
    #1 Michael Scott, Oct 11, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
    tripplej likes this.
  2. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the review. I will check this one out. :)
     
  3. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

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    Thank you for the review. I am sure the LFE is thunderous like Cloverfield.
     
  4. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    I like the tip of the cap to Blair, Mike. I saw that in an art house in Philly and really dug it. Fun flick.

    I do agree... the "found footage" can be tough to digest. These look interesting, tho. Curious: are they hard to watch with the English dub engaged? Or are subtitles the way to roll?
     
  5. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    the English dub is available only on the 1st, and I'd say go with the subtitles. The spanish track is much better for voices. But it's perfectly servicable with the dub
     

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