(Rec) 3: Genesis (2012)
(18) Running time: 77 minutes
Director: Paco Plaza
Writer: Paco Plaza
Starring: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martin, Claire Baschet, Ishmael Martinez
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
I loved (Rec) 1 & 2, really loved them. The first film was so original, so intense and pretty bloody scary. The second film was bigger, louder and truly frightening and was to (Rec) what Aliens was to Alien (Ross Hughes). I have been following the events leading up to the release of Paco Plaza’s (Rec) 3: Genesis with anticipation and excitement. In fact, maybe I was too excited and was expecting too much? Either way, I cannot help but feel some disappointment in what I have watched here, and I feel awful saying this but (Rec) 3: Genesis is a real step backwards for what was all set to be one of the greatest horror franchises of the modern age.
In this third instalment, one half of the creative team behind the franchise, Paco Plaza, has gone it alone. Both Plaza and his partner in crime Jaume Balaguero have decided to split for the third and fourth instalments: Plaza’s ‘Genesis runs alongside the previous two (Rec) films, and Balaguero’s ‘Apocalypse’ will serve as a prequel to the entire story. I hope that Balaguero’s effort is better than this. That is not to say (Rec) 3 is awful, but it takes the franchise in a new direction: some of it works and some of it doesn’t.
The story here is based around the wedding of Clara (the super sexy Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin), and of how the virus literally destroys their special day. The early scenes use the handheld camera style we have come to expect, and love about this franchise. After a brief montage of pictures of the happy couple growing up we head straight to the wedding and join a number of different cameras as we frantically follow guests around. Waiting for the bride to arrive, we meet the cameraman, himself being filmed by a family member and the pair get into all sorts of chats about their cameras and “cinema verite” , a clear homage to what has come from the franchise before. The meeting of guests is as expected for a wedding, with one of the highlights being ‘Grandad’ and the fact he is a bit deaf (something which plays a major part later on) The couple get happily married, characters literally come and go and we move on to the evening where the party goes ahead in a very large mansion. The only two characters you will truly connect with here are Clara and Koldo, and apart from maybe the cameraman, there is only really one other character of note, the Uncle. He has been bitten by what he thought was a dead dog at work, and eventually the virus kicks in and all Hell breaks loose at the party. The rest you can pretty much guess as Clara and Koldo are separated, and frantically try to survive so they can be together once more.
Now, the first mistake of this film comes about twenty minutes in when Plaza shocks his audience by removing the handheld camera and switching to the more traditional style of filmmaking. The switch is actually handled incredibly well as Koldo smashes the wedding video mans camera and the film’s title eventually appears. Sadly, from this point on things begin to go downhill and the ‘edge’ that the handheld camera gave the (Rec) franchise is lost. Secondly the seriousness of the previous films is removed, and shockingly we have to put up with lots of comedy, comedy!! Honestly, I was worried I was watching the wrong film. Now, I am all for changing tactics and trying something new, but taking away two of the main elements that made the franchise up until now so good is just madness. Instead of petrified residents, nail biting tension and a sense of not knowing what we will see next, we get Koldo walking around dressed as King Arthur (the armour will protect him you see!), another guest dressed as Spongebob (he isn’t Spongebob, he is Sponge John, or something like that due to copyright), a man who has snuck in to make sure royalties get paid to whoever provides the music and some joke about French women being sluts. I admire Plaza for attempting something ‘fresh’ but what happened to the age old rule of “if it aint broke then don’t fix it”.
The inclusion of comedy and dangerously obvious scare moments take away any menace or general sense of fear. You never actually worry for the safety of the characters, and you probably won’t even care. However, for all the bad stuff, there is still enough good stuff to warrant this film as not so much a worthy companion to the other films, but a gentle distraction from the onslaught of scares if you were planning to watch them back to back. A scene involving ‘Royalties’ man losing it is hilarious to watch, the Priest realising the power of his words is a nice touch based on the second film, and seeing the events of the previous films unfold on a TV in the background is a clever move. However, the stars of the show here are not those infected, but Clara and Koldo. This film is as much about love and wanting to be together than it is about the virus itself. In fact, I would call this a horror film for romantics, if there is such a thing!
Koldo mainly prances around in his ridiculous King Arthur outfit, but it is Clara who steals this film. To look at, she is incredibly sexy, and even if you struggle to enjoy this film, I guarantee you will enjoy every second she is on screen. However, she goes one step further later on as she gets her hands on a chainsaw. For no apparent reason (I suppose it means she can run better), she chops off half of her dress, revealing a perfect leg with a red wedding garter at the top, and she proceeds to use the chainsaw to gloriously take on the infected in the films big highlight. It is proof that Plaza has not forgotten what made the franchise great in the first place, yet it might be a little too much too late. The film almost drags up until the frantic finish, and even though watching Clara shove a chainsaw into an infected persons face bellowing “this is my day!!” or watching Koldo take off someone’s face with a handheld blender, it is all too late in the day. If you have managed to stay awake up until the end, then you will be treated to some very good stuff indeed, but sadly the journey to get there is less than acceptable for a franchise of such high quality.
A missed opportunity then, (Rec) 3: Genesis has ignored its roots, but not forgotten the good stuff come the end. This is a mixed bag with lots that really doesn’t work, and a small amount that shows that (Rec) is still one of the bravest, and most relevant franchises in horror today. Fingers crossed for (Rec) 4: Apocalypse to correct the mistakes here.