SXSW ’12 – REC 3: Genesis Review


New Spanish horror movie is a fun horror film, a poor sequel

REC 3: Genesis is a fun “zombie” movie and is regularly entertaining. As a sequel in the REC franchise, though, the movie comes up seriously lacking.

I can admire REC 3: Genesis director Paco Plaza for taking a risk and drastically transforming the series he co-created with Jaume Balaguero.  Gone is the found-footage format that REC and REC 2 had previously used to effectively explore a Spanish apartment complex’s infestation via demonically possessed zombies. Following the conclusion of its first act, REC 3 defiantly smashes the handheld camera audiences had expected to capture the forthcoming horror and instead switches to a more traditional cinematic structure — with sweeping camera moves and swelling orchestral score.

This is just the latest evolution of a Spanish horror movie series that had previously managed to subtly transform itself from a slow-burn “zombie” horror film into an action-packed supernatural story of the impending apocalypse. For the third film in the franchise, Plaza has overseen another, more drastic, metamorphosis. In a story that runs parallel with the action contained in the first two films, REC 3 transforms itself from a found footage horror film into a genuine romantic comedy — featuring gags inspired by Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi. While cheeky movies involving zombie-like hoards are always entertaining, the decision to ditch the severe creepiness that the previous two REC films had cultivated will leave fans of the series mourning what could have been.

Leticia Dolera and Diego Martin star as Clara and Koldo, two young lovers on their wedding day. Their nuptials are interrupted, though, when Clara’s uncle, having been infected by the dog mentioned previously in the first film, becomes possessed by a demon and transforms the wedding party into a bloodbath by turning the majority of the attendees into rampaging maniacs in search of blood.

Clara and Koldo are separated from each other in the confusion and the movie follows the two as they attempt to reunite. Along the way, gore fans will get their fair share of entrails, dismemberments and gross demon-zombies. What they won’t get, though, is that sense of dread of the supernatural that the previous two films had so effortlessly affected. The infected in REC 3 are too often played for comedic effect – stripping away the mystique and fearfulness of the monsters. In much the same way Army of Darkness turned the Evil Dead series into a spoof of itself, REC 3 becomes more parody than horror film.

That said, this is the deepest audiences will probably care about any of the human characters in a REC movie. Through the use of conventional cinematic techniques (score, flashbacks, sweeping slow-motion shots), Plaza bonds audiences deeply with Clara and Koldo and viewers become quite invested in their survival.

I can appreciate Plaza wanting to try something new with the series but REC 3, while entertaining, adds nothing to the series in the way a good sequel should. No new revelations are made about the demonic infection and there are no real tangible ties to the previous two films besides some winks towards the audience and the shared threat. If REC 3 had been its own film and not part of the REC franchise — it could have been a fun, if ultimately forgettable, horror film. As it stands, though, REC 3 seems to be just water being treaded until Plaza’s previous collaborator Jaume Balaguero releases his solo take on the franchise with REC 4: Apocalypse – due for release in 2013.

Director: Paco Plaza
Notable Cast: Carla Nieto, Leticia Dolera, Diego Martin, Alex Monner, Mireia Ros, Ismael Martinez, Ana Isabel Velasquez, Emilio Mencheta and Blai Liopis
Writer(s): Paco Plaza and Luis Berdejo

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