Review: [REC] 3 GENESIS (Paco Plaza)

Contributor; Antwerp, Belgium
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Review: [REC] 3 GENESIS (Paco Plaza)
The [rec] franchise returns to the big screen and continues its mayhem amongst Spanish citizens. [rec] 3 Genesis is the latest installment in the series, revitalizing the zombie genre with a couple of interesting new twists while at the same time paying homage to existing and reigning genre cliches. The result is a fun-filled zombie flick that may stray a little from its predecessors, but remains true to the overall quality of the series.

The first two films were joint efforts, directed by both Balagueró and Plaza. For the final two films the directors decided to each handle a film of their own. This is quite essential to understanding this third film, as Plaza is known to inject his horror films with a dash of comedy (make sure you check his entry in the Peliculas para No Dormir series). Because of that [rec] 3 is not a straight horror flick, but a pleasant mix of zombie action with comedy moments thrown in for good measure. The tension that defined the first two films is mostly gone, firmly replaced by girl power action and a few jabs at genre cliches.

While there are a few elements that link [rec] 3 to the first two films, this third film exists mostly on its own. We say goodbye to the house where the events of the first two films unfolded, instead we join a young couple on their wedding day. After an incredibly cheesy PowerPoint montage of cute and embarrassing pictures of the young couple, the film takes off near the wedding church. Hand-held cameras ready, a team of pros is bound to be documenting the wedding from A to Z(ombie).

All remains calm until the families arrive at the evening party, a rather luxurious estate that will prove a great playground for some zombie bashing. Before long it is revealed that of the uncles wasn't really bitten by a dog after all and just moments later the estate is crawling with blood-lusting creatures. The newlyweds get separated in the chaos and will give it their all to beat the zombies that spoiled their special day.

Even though the first part of the film remains true to its found footage origins, around halfway through Plaza is clearly fed up with the whole hand-held concept. He ditches his camera crew and switches back to more traditional film techniques. It's a choice that has less effect on the film than you would image, probably because Plaza feels very comfortable filming in both styles. While the first part of the film makes you feel like you're part of the wedding, the second half is more stylized and makes better use of its environment, making room for some very impressive shots and great camera angles. The underground sequence in particular kicks ass. It's real nice to see a zombie flick with great production values that are used to their fullest effect (for a change).

The soundtrack too is of high quality. Sure enough it's made up of pop songs for the larger part (mostly songs playing during the wedding party), but just like the first two films the audio manipulation is superb and spot on. The remainder of the soundtrack is a not as in-your-face, but does a good very job setting the mood. That and the fact that for once the zombies sound more like menacing brain-munching killers instead of grunting old people who have trouble gobbling down their food.

And the acting too is of high quality. Diego Martin is great as the groom, but it's Leticia Dolera (as the bride) that gets the best scenes here. From the moment she's ripping apart her wedding dress using a roaring chainsaw, she barges through the film as one big, menacing lump of girl power who will be stopped by noone. The supporting cast is equally successful, though I'll admit that most of them are aided by some great zombie make-up.

Even though the change of setting and camera style may be serious hurdles for fans of the series who aren't flexible enough to let the [rec] films evolve, the biggest shock will come in the form of the comedy elements that are scattered throughout the film. The humor is actually quite fun and introduces some great moments (SpongeJohn and the stealth-knights), but once things get serious Plaza is quick to pick up the pace, avoiding the traps many other horror/comedies fall into. The horror and gore is still top-notch, the comedy scenes are merely interludes to brighten the atmosphere a little.

[rec] 3 is easily the most fun I've had in cinemas in months. Sure enough this has something to do with the awful selection of film that disgrace Belgian cinema screens week after week, but it's also because Plaza knows how to deliver a fun, action-filled zombie flick that harbors some kick-ass gore and a few very funny moments. I guess Balagueró will provide the series with a real ending that remains true to the first two films, but as a way of getting there [rec] 3 is a very worthwhile successor to the previous two films. Highly recommended, especially when you can watch it on the big screen.

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More about [REC] Genesis

Todd BrownApril 12, 2012 10:44 AM

Safe to say I felt differently about this one. Hated it. Hate, hate, hate. Not scary, not funny, completely divorced from the mythology they worked so hard to set up in the last film. Completely pointless and, in my opinion, if they hadn't already committed to the fourth film so bad it would be a franchise killer.

Niels MatthijsApril 12, 2012 11:13 AM

Not scary indeed, but not funny? There were several moments that were lol-worthy, but didn't linger any longer than they needed too.

As for the "mythology", I really couldn't care less. It's zombies, that's about all I need to know.

Todd BrownApril 12, 2012 11:30 AM

When the title explicitly says it's the Genesis story of the series - i.e. the origin - and that's how the producers and sales company pitched it to everyone around the world while they were making it, it better address the mythology, yeah. If Paco wanted to make some unrelated zombie movie he would've been free to do so, but it shouldn't have been sold as a [REC] movie.

Niels MatthijsApril 12, 2012 12:53 PM

But it was tied to [rec]. I went into the film expecting some kind of prequel, but instead the "genesis" part seemed to refer to the awakening of the "zombies" and their realm on Earth rather than the genesis of the series' mythology.

I guess that's why I don't really bother with trailers, company pitches and other stuff that's not the film itself. It helps you value a film for what it is, not for what it's supposed, intended or miss-communicated to be.

givetheorderApril 12, 2012 1:06 PM

It's better than the second one by a mile.

jwalk415April 14, 2012 3:26 AM

Todd, you'll be shocked but I'm with you on this one. I hated [rec] 3 as well. It is a complete slap in the face to the first two films and there was just no need to inject humor in a storyline that didn't need any. Imagine Coppola making Godfather III a comedy? [REC] was said to be Alien to [REC] 2's Aliens but this one is the Alien vs. Predator. What an utter disappointment. Hopefully, Balaguero can steer the ship right for the last one.

James MarshMay 17, 2012 9:23 AM

Shockingly, I'm actually in agreement with Niels on this one - I found it to be frequently laugh-out-loud funny and had a good time from beginning to end. However, there is a direct link to the previous films. The uncle claims to have been bitten by a dog. I think it's safe to assume this was the dog belonging to the little girl in the first film that spreads the outbreak there.

Granted it's not much of a "Genesis", I did appreciate the new elements to the mythology that Paco brought to the table here - namely how the zombies (or should we be saying "demons"?) appear in reflective surfaces and the way they react to scripture.

Definitely looking forward to seeing Jaume bring everything together for part four, but this was surprisingly good in light of all the bad things I'd been hearing about it.