Returning for this installment is director Jaume Balagueró, who helmed the first two films, and actress Manuela Velasco, who reprises her role as reporter Ángela Vidal. Curiously absent, though, is the series' found-footage aesthetic, as the director instead opts for a more traditional, cinematic format to tell his story. In any event, the film takes place after the events of [REC]2, and follows Ángela Vidal as she is rescued from the series' besieged apartment building. Scoring the film is Arnau Bataller, best known for his fantastic work on the Spanish-language horror flick The Brotherhood, also released by MovieScore Media.
While [REC]4 does not approach the choral beauty of The Brotherhood (nor does it really try... this is a very contemporary score), it is no doubt a well-crafted work. The score is bookended by performances of its main theme, a rousing and propulsive identity, with noble brass over racing strings. One could conceivably imagine the film being temped with Marco Beltrami's World War Z, as the score's main theme is highly reminiscent of that score's closing cue, "Like a River Around a Rock". Heard in its fullest iteration during the opening cue "Countdown", and then later in "Nick the Hero" and the closing "Nick the Hero (Reprise)", the theme is by far the score's strongest asset. It lends a sense of scale to the film, and a momentousness to a largely by-the-numbers score. While there are variations on the main theme here and there (as in "The Medeiros Girl" and "Fighting"), much of the score's runtime is devoted to quiet suspense and raucous action fare, most of which comes across as competent but not terribly noteworthy. "Inside the House" and "Escaping are the standout action set-pieces, with chopping strings, thunderous drums and energetic brass work. Cues like "First Attack" and much of "Fighting" deliver some startling moments through familiar horror tropes (cacophonic stingers, brass clusters, slamming percussion, etc.), and cues like "Security Gates", "The Infection: Part 1", "Recovering the Tape", and "The Infection: Part 2" wander in the lower registers with trembling strings and electronic beats. While certainly serviceable to the needs of the film, there is not much in these portions that grabs your attention, and the performances of the main theme remain the score's strongest material. Even so, Arnau Bataller's [REC]4 comes across as a pleasant surprise, its stirring opening cue transcending expectations. I would not be surprised if Bataller finds himself in the ranks of Spanish horror maestros Velazquez and Baños quite soon.
A Few Recommended Tracks: "Countdown", "Nick the Hero", "Nick the Hero (Reprise)"
Label: Screamworks/MovieScore Media
Availability: 14 track edition