I’m a sucker for a franchise box set, especially for those that aren’t the most popular. It’s easy to come by multiple variations of Freddy Krueger or Jason sets, just maybe not as complete as one would like, but some movies have their followings that deserve the special treatment.
I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever for the REC series to get something here in the US. Before Scream Factory announced this complete set, I’m pretty sure all we had were standalone DVDs here, but the wait is well worth it. Here, we get a high definition upgrade in one collectible set with several special features to accommodate each film. Now, just a warning, this review is set up as if you’ve already seen the movies as it’s difficult to discuss the sequels without spoilers.
We start off with REC, which introduces Angela Vidal, a local reporter whose crew is following the night shift of a Barcelona fire station. It starts off as a mere tour of what their lives are like until they get a call about a screaming woman stuck in an apartment building. Upon arrival, they find some of the tenants gathered on the main floor concerned about what’s going on. From there, Angela ends up with a juicier story than she ever imagined as an infection has begun to spread in the apartment and the building finds itself under a mysterious quarantine due to something bigger.
This was later remade almost scene by scene in America under the title Quarantine, with small changes. While not an awful remake, it didn’t do itself any favors by advertising the ending in the trailer and poster art. A sequel to Quarantine came out (no relation to REC 2) and spread the infection to airplane passengers which actually ends up being a lot more fun than expected.
REC 2 continues literally seconds after the events of the first film. Another team is sent into the same apartment building to control the situation and figure what happened to the tenants. It utilizes the same found footage technique from the first with some more action as the situation has escalated quite a bit and we get to now see infected versions of some of the original characters. However, not everyone is who they seem to be and the we get an expanded view as to what this infection truly is. Also, there might be some survivors we didn’t expect.
REC 3: GENESIS decides to create a major change for the franchise and I personally love the hell out of this one. The sequel begins with the found footage look as we get to experience the wedding of new characters, Koldo and Clara. One of their guests, however, may have had some kind of interaction with a certain dog in the first film, and that results in one hell of a massacre wedding. After the first act, the found footage is dropped which is also when shit gets real. The couple get separated in the chaos and we follow them both as they try to find each other while encountering several of the infected. GENESIS doesn’t add anything to mythology of the franchise, but it does give a more violently entertaining version of the story. I’m not a sucker for love stories, but the connection between these two characters in the middle of everything gets to me every time.
REC 4: APOCALYPSE takes us to a ship that also brings back Angela from the first film. Loyal viewers know her secret, but the other passengers are unaware. Word spreads just like the disease once sinister intentions are revealed and containment is no longer an option. APOCALYPSE is a misleading title as I would imagine complete chaos and the threat of the end of the world, but this feels like a self contained story. While not a bad movie by any means, APOCALYPSE feels very standard compared the previous installments, but is saved by Angela’s comeback as franchise fans will find great delight in watching her be a badass without shaky cameras getting in the way.
The REC series works because you can feel a passion behind the lens with each installment, even if you prefer some over the others. Scream Factory has gathered each film with their own making of featurettes and behind the scenes footage. These mini docs are interesting because they get into why certain films take the directions they go and get plenty of creative insight into how the franchise evolved. The first film also comes with the directors’ commentary (Spanish, but also subtitled). The sound mix on these movies are killer, especially the first two as scenarios that play in the dark are more terrifying when hearing strange noises behind you. The REC Collection from Scream Factory is a must own for horror fans and comes in a rather sturdy slipbox to keep the movies safe from damage.