I normally don’t review theatrical features unless it’s warranted. Well, let’s just say that it’s warranted now. If you know me then you also know that I’m a horror fiend and that I hold the REC films close to my wretched heart. I consider REC and REC 2 two of the greatest horror films of all time. In fact, it’s because of the first REC film that I went region free in terms of Blu-rays and all. I have the Spanish import of that disc. I also have the Japanese import of the second film. When the filmmakers decided to expand on the REC mythology I was excited and nervous. The third entry into the successful franchise is entitled REC 3: Genesis, and as you can see, is the prequel. There will be a part four entitled REC 4: Apocalypse next year, which will end the series. For now, I will review part 3. Please keep in mind that the following review may or may not read like a rant, and will be spoiler filled, so if you haven’t seen the film (which is available on VOD through various outlets) then please skip my review, which is more of a cathartic piece than anything else.
REC 3: Genesis opens up with peculiar montage of music and pictures from a digital photo album. We come to find ourselves that the couple on the DVD photo album is none other than Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin), who are set to be married on this day. It’s a traditional Catholic ceremony, guests litter the joint, and we have someone taping the ceremony on a handheld camcorder. Yes, we are on familiar territory and I am just waiting for the proverbial shit to hit the fan.
The first 15-20 minutes of the film does a great job of setting up the impending doom, and for those keeping track, there’s someone in the party that got bit in the hand by a sick dog at a veterinary hospital, but seems to be doing okay. Yes, that’s tie-in number one. Once everyone gathers up inside for the reception, we see men in strange bio-hazard uniforms taking readings around the bushes. Hmmm, what are they looking for? That’s tie-in number two.
Oh, before I forget, the man that had the dog bite was Koldo’s uncle. He’s no one. As the reception gets started and Clara and Koldo hit the dance floor the cameraman notices Koldo’s uncle on the upstairs balcony about to black flip down on a table. Well, after crashing down on the table and guests – one could say that dinner is served and hell has been unleashed.
Hell gets unleashed and Clara and Koldo are separated form each other. This is about 15-20 minutes into the film, when Koldo asks the cameraman why he’s filming? The cameraman responds with “we have to document EVERYTHING!” Koldo takes the camera and smashes it to pieces. This is where we shift from the “real world” into the “film world” and where my much beloved horror franchise takes a nose dive into mediocrity. When we come back to the film we’re in their world as opposed to them being in our world. There’s a cheesy thumping score that carries the film in addition to some quirks here and there.
It’s almost like a Spanish Evil Dead film from here on out. The gore continues to rule, but some of the character’s motivations become cliched and dumb, as the film plays out. There are certain scenes that are supposed to play off as creative, but end up falling flat (mainly the knight and his trusty squire homage). The third tie-in to the previous films would have to be that the possessed are all possessed by the same demon: La Niña Medeiros. That’s actually a pretty cool concept and I liked the way it was executed – in the mirrored reflections of the possessed. What I didn’t like is that the possessed didn’t act like they were possessed like they did in the first two films. They acted like run-of-the-mill zombies. You had your “walkers,” “stumblers,” “runners,” and none of them spoke. This went totally against the rules that were set up previously.
The tonal shift of the film is what’s most aggravating, because I stopped caring for anyone. Believe me, if you watch the first two films, that shit is brutal, scary, and it sucks you right into a believable world. Genesis does not. I did like the fact that Clara and Koldo were so bonded by love that they never stopped searching for each other while trying to escape the horde of possessed zombies (er, demons), but when she kicks off her heels and displays some hardcore fighting ability, I was pretty much through. Don’t get me wrong, it looked cool and Leticia Dolera is beautiful, but where did she learn how to fight and where did she learn how to wield a chainsaw with such precision? Get the fuck outta here!
When the film ended, it left me with more questions than answers. Okay, it pretty much only answered ONE question and that was that La Niña Medeiros is the only demon and that when someone is bitten or chewed to shit then she transfers into them. That’s pretty cool, I think, but what was the rest about? The biggest mistake, in my opinion, was making a found footage film into a fictitious film. I’ve seen this technique used before (Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon), but the tonal shift is what kills it. If they were going to do that with REC 3 then the tone should have remained the same when we switched from camcorder to film – consistent all the way through.
I didn’t hate the film, but I sure as hell didn’t love it like I was almost programmed to. I thought the special effects make-ups were great and appreciated all the blood letting. I just wasn’t a fan of how it went from something that had already been established into something that it wasn’t. Genesis really doesn’t move the series forward, which means that REC 4: Apocalypse will have to hit it out of the ball park in order to keep some of the fans that it will most definitely lose after this entry. I guess I’ll see you guys in about year.
*REC 3: Genesis is currently available on VOD in a pre-theatrical window, and it will see a theatrical release in September.