REC 3: Genesis – 6
Director – Paco Plaza
Cast – Leticia Dolera, Diego Martín, Ismael Martínez, Àlex Monner, Borja Glez. Santaolalla, Emilio Mencheta, David Ramírez
Release Year – 2012
Reviewed by John of the Dead
REC and REC 2 obliterated the horror genre as Spanish writing/directing duo Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza gave us two of the most horrific horror films of all time. Short, brutally unrelenting, and shot in the popular POV style of filmmaking, the REC franchise had been the genre’s most admirable since the success of REC 2 and word that REC 3: Genesis and REC 4: Apocalipsis were in the works. Balaguero and Plaza mentioned that they were going to continue the series in a different fashion, first by not teaming up and each directing their own sequel, but also by abandoning the POV format – something myself and other fans were wary of given their unique ability to provide much terror from the format. When Paco Plaza’s REC 3: Genesis debuted last year it was met with mixed and negative reviews, and the obvious was obvious: the fans did not like it. Going into this piece I was expected to be only slightly let down, because Plaza has proven that he can deliver a good piece on his own (Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt, Second Name) and sure enough I was right. While REC 3: Genesis is nowhere near the awesome level of its predecessors, it is not as bad an experience as fans have made it out to be. The horror is there, the action is there, and the live-action gore is plentiful, but with its few faults and different “feel” than its predecessors the genre’s fans impulsively dismissed this mostly-enjoyable flick that would fare better without “REC” in its title.
It is wedding day for Koldo and Clara, the absolute most important day of their lives thus far. Everything seems to be running smoothly; the families are joyous, the setting is perfect, and love is truly in the air. Shortly after the ceremony begins the guests begin to show signs of a strange illness, but before anyone can figure out what is happening the newlyweds and their guests find themselves buried in the middle of a hellish ordeal. As uncontrollable violence is unleashed upon the wedding, Koldo and Clara are separated and begin a desperate and time-sensitive search to find each other, with no assurance that the other is still alive. What was supposed to be a day of love and harmony has become a night of chaos and bloodthirsty insanity.
Originally thought to be a sequel (the title DOES say “Genesis”), REC 3‘s storyline eventually proves otherwise and shows this is in fact a companion piece that takes place before, during, and after the events of REC and REC 2. Paco Plaza writes this film along with REC co-writer Luiso Berdejo and REC series editor David Gallart, and their writing is likely the culprit behind some fans bashing this piece. Things start off as expected, with everyone having a good time at the wedding, but with a runtime of 80 minutes you know the horror is going to kick in early, and at the 16 minute mark we are given the first glimpse of the horror when a member of Koldo’s family mentions that he was bitten by a strange dog earlier in the day. If him being bitten by a strange dog rings a bell, it should. Once the 19 minute mark hits we are given the first full-frontal scene of horror, and then the chaos begins. The rather large wedding resort has now become a haven for the infected who kill at the slightest impulse, and when the authorities arrive and quarantine the area the survivors are forced to fend for themselves and with nowhere to run. Adding to the conflict is the fact that Koldo and Clara have been separated, and the story focuses mostly on Koldo going to incredible lengths to try and reunite with Clara, but do not worry – we get plenty of asskicking from Clara as well.
The first major difference I noticed in the film was its abandonment of the POV format, which took place about 22 minutes into the experience. From then on out the story is shown via traditional cinematography, and honestly I did not mind this change but I do believe it resulted in less intensity. This brings me to the next major difference I noticed, the pacing of the film. Both REC and REC 2 gave us a short period of development and then never relented after the first scene of horror hit the screen. I believe the POV format allowed them to do this because it gave us a first-person perspective instead of third-person, and REC 3‘s third-person perspective made for an experience much slower than its predecessors. Is this a bad thing? No, not at all. The film moved just like any other film with three acts moves, but it is “different” than the others and therefore received hate from the more impulsive viewers out there. Thankfully, this sequel/prequel/whatever does retain some of the elements that made the first two films so much fun, like lots of intense action and live special effects. There is plenty of gore to go around and things get even more brutal when a chainsaw is introduced, and in the end we have a body count of several dozen on-screen kills.
I did find some faults in the storyline, but they mostly had to do with how unserious the film was at times. There is much more humor than expected and that made for a much more “commercial” feel, which took away from the edgy and uncorrupted feel I was hoping for. This was also the first story in the series to have a heavy love element and not just focus on people surviving the most harrowing and unexplained ordeal of their lives. In a sense this added to the conflict already at hand, but at the same time it made the film less horrific and as mentioned earlier, more commercial.
Paco Plaza’s direction is probably the best thing the film has to offer. His ability to leave the POV format that made him famous shows that the guy is not limited in his directing talents, and he positively executes the major elements of the film. The performances from the leads are good, especially from Diego Martin as Koldo and Leticia Dolera as Clara, and they each bring thrown own emotion and badassery to the table. The location and sets used were good as well and while they were nowhere near as claustrophobic as the apartment complex used in REC and REC 2 they still kept me engaged despite the lack of intensity compared to the previous setting. Most importantly though, Plaza’s direction of the horror is highly enjoyable. We see lots of onscreen kills that resulted in necks torn wide open, decapitations, dismemberment, and a chainsaw leave a body in perfect vertical symmetry like the rapist kill in Ichi the Killer. Plaze employs live-action effects too and only uses CGI in the rarest of occasions, and all in all it was his execution of the horror that made this a pretty worthy watch despite the impulsive hate others have given this film.
Overall, REC 3: Genesis is nowhere near the horrible film that some impulsive horror fans have made it out to be. This is definitely a different experience than the previous films and those going into this flick expecting more of the same are in for a big surprise, but that does not mean this is a bad experience. The story is good enough and it comes with lots of horror that comes directed very well by Paco Plaza, making for an experience that I suggest you check out but with an open mind.