REC and REC 2 are two of my favorite found-footage, horror films. Yeah, I didn’t care for the second entry as much as the first, only because it treads in similar territory and it introduced a religious aspect that seemed a little silly to me. I did like it, though, but a man can have a few problems with a film, right?
So, needless to say, I was excited for REC 3: Genesis when I heard about its inception. The trailer that was released got me pumped because of the crazy-nature that seemed to be added to the mix (chainsaw bride, y’all!). Also, Paco Plaza was directing/writing this one, and even though his REC partner, Jaume Balaguero, was not involved with REC 3: Genesis (he is off making REC: Apocalypse), I had faith. Well, I can’t say I finished REC 3 with hate bursting out of my face, but I was conflicted and I believe I only enjoyed half of what the film delivered.
Koldo and Clara are about to get married on a fine, warm day in Spain. Their cousin Adrian is filming some of the events before the actual wedding on a handheld camera, capturing joyous noises of family members. Adrian is approached by Atun, the wedding’s REAL videographer, and Atun gives Adrian an industry grade camera to record things going on at the wedding. One of the things that Adrian captures is his Uncle, who has been bitten by a dog, he says, and he has gotten a rather nasty infection on his hand. As the day progresses, the Uncle begins to look worse and worse, until he snaps and attacks a person at the wedding. The infection breaks out, and Koldo and Clara are split up. They spend the rest of the time trying to find each other again.
Alright, guys, I’m not going to hide this from you, even if it is a little bit of a surprise because I think it is the core reason why I didn’t dig this film as much as I wanted. After the first twenty minutes of found-footage, a late title screen pops up (WHICH IS ALWAYS FUCKING RAD), and the film switches to a non-found-footage presentation. Yep, you’re flipped on your head as you are brought into a “normal” cinematic experience. At first, I thought this was going to be what the series needed, a fresh change, but as the film progressed, I realized that maybe it wasn’t a great choice. You see, the found-footage element brought a sense of tension because you were forced into a particular field of view, now REC 3 plays out like any other “zombie” film. So, instead of intense chases, and not knowing where the enemies are coming from, I’m treated to shots that I could see in other films, and with less of a punch.
The other thing that bothered me was the tonal shift in the series. The first two films are gritty, serious, and depressing, which could be why I like them so much. REC 3 takes a different approach by starting off serious, but then becoming a little humorous and absurd as the film went on. Now, I wouldn’t say that this ruined my experience, in fact, I liked some of the stuff brought into this film, but the humor that was implied felt jarring. Two guys running around dressed as knights did not tickle my fancy, it just made me all “whaaaa?” The over-the-top-ness worked particularly well during the chainsaw scene and some of the kill scenes. So, this tonal change got a mixed reaction from me because it felt uneven.
I did like stuff about REC 3, don’t get me wrong. I thought the first twenty minutes was building towards something great. The effects are well done, aside from a few CG mishaps. Clara and Koldo are likable characters and their need to reconnect is endearing. I thoroughly liked the ending and found it beautiful in its own way, I just took issue with how everything got to that point. The religious element is back from the second film, and it is taken to an even more absurd level this time as the “zombies” are put under a spell if they have Bible verses spoken to them. Sure, it’s Spain and they love their Catholicism, but I find all the talk about religion saving the day (sort of) to be a bit annoying and heavy handed.
REC 3: Genesis will split audiences with its new approach to the series, and maybe that’s a good thing. I certainly didn’t hate the film, and I strongly recommend it to those who are invested in the series. I think, for me, it was a passable watch that delivered fifty percent of the time. The best scene is, of course, the chainsaw scene, which, for its nonsensical place in the film, is a lot of fun. I wanted more from REC 3, but I can’t get what I want all the time, you know? I think it’s half-good, others will adore it and many, I assume, will trash it. I found middle ground, and I am going to stand here.
Also, there is so much phallic imagery in this film.