The first thing to remember when you sit down to watch [Rec] 3: Genesis is that it’s a very different film to its predecessors. [Rec] (2007) and [Rec] 2 (2009) have already garnered
more than their fair share of cult following and critical acclaim, the latter often cited as one of the best horror sequels since Dawn of the Dead, and so expectations for a third entry were mixed.
The film follows the story of Koldo (Diego Martin) and Clara (Leticia Dolera) who’s wedding reception turns into a nightmare when their guests begin to tear each other apart. The newlyweds are split up in the commotion and take shelter with other survivors while the infected pick off family and friends. With a mansion full of blood-hungry psychopaths between them, the two set out to find one another on- what could be- the last day of their lives.
Rather than Dawn of the Dead, consider this the Evil Dead 2 of the series. The first two films are very close in composition and narrative with a controlled escalation of both mythology and action, ensuring all bases are covered. The third film, in order to hold its own, instead ups the ante on action and scope, whilst changing the feel of the series. After the first twenty minutes its a surprise to see the handheld camera destroyed and the film switching to a polished omniscience as it captures the demise of the shattered camcorder. We get the message: this isn’t [Rec] one or two, this is three and the rules are different. It’s a big “screw you” to the Doubting Thomas’s who saw this ending in tears. Knowing that Paco Plaza, co-writer/director of the previous two films, was on board should have been a tell-tale sign that all would be well one way or another.
Dolera and Martin make a lovable amateur kick-ass duo, and it’s their brilliant performances that give the film a heart to build on. Dolera in particular is fantastic, going from doe-eyed lover to sizzling heroin with the helpful inclusion of a chainsaw. Plaza has boldly made attempts to create iconic images from reworked horror iconography and it’s that admirable understanding of genre that helps give his film more bite.
The third [Rec] is a direct product of the first two in many ways. There’s a good piece of entertainment for newbies to the series and a rewarding escapade for the more seasoned fans. The little details are in abundance and they help layer the film up and link it back to the first two: when an uncle explains how he got bit by a dog at the vet, alarm bells ring, similarly when someone says “switch to night vision” you can’t help but shiver. On the subject of scares the film’s black comedy element does outweigh its capacity to scare us shitless. Where in [Rec] we spent the last ten minutes whispering “What the Hell is that?” and [Rec] 2 had us whispering “Where the Hell did it go?!” Genesis sports dubious moments of “Really?” The black comedy can be too much considering the series’ origins, especially when the groom gets all Don Quixote, complete with shivering Sancho Panza. Nothing in this film comes close to the horror of the Medeiros girl in [Rec]’s one and two, but at least it doesn’t seem to want to.
Plaza gets ample opportunity to show off what he can do on a solo mission; steering some impressive set-pieces without letting the mood slip. One particular sequence, when the shit first hits the fan and the entire wedding reception goes from family fun to bloodbath in twenty seconds, shows an inspired understanding of chaos, which sets the mood for the rest of the film. One can’t help but feel Plaza has been dying to orchestrate Hell on this scale since day one.
Racing down the OTT path shamelessly and aiming for laughs en route will alienate a lot of fans, as will the polished glitzy look in comparison to the thus-far gritty and grim feel of the films, but needs must for survival of the franchise and you can’t fault its concept or watchability. The result is this: a near-perfect showcase of gory glory with heart, and brains, and everything else in between.
Director: Paco Plaza
Stars: Leticia Dolero, Diego Martin, Ismael Martinez