Title: [REC] 3 Genesis
Directed By: Paco Plaza
Starring: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martín, Àlex Monner, Emilio Mencheta, Ismael Martínez, Claire Baschet
I’m all for trying something new, but when you’ve got a film franchise like “REC,” certain expectations must be met. Perhaps his fictional virus finally got to him because the fact that writer-director Paco Plaza thinks he can suddenly do away with found footage and horror in the third installment is downright bizarre.
It’s Clara and Koldo’s (Leticia Dolera and Diego Martín) big day and their family and friends have all come out to see them get married. All is well until Uncle Victor (Emilio Mencheta) starts feeling under the weather. Soon thereafter, Uncle Victor stands on the balcony above the reception and falls over the railing only to rise again and start eating the other guests. Within minutes the party is overrun by the infected.
This portion of the story is everything franchise fans would hope it to be and more. The wedding spin makes for an excellent justification of the found footage technique, Koldo’s cousin, Adrián (Àlex Monner), primarily documenting the descent into chaos. And just like “REC” and “REC 2,” the scenario is quite horrifying, creating the sensation that you’re right there alongside the attendees and trapped in this reception hall with the bloodthirsty. Unfortunately, once the stage is set, “REC 3” does a complete 180, not only ruining everything that was achieved in the opening meltdown, but severely spoiling the franchise.
Rather than stick with the found footage technique, which was working quite well, “REC 3” abandons the key component, tossing aside an element that’s so pivotal to the series’ success. There’s nothing wrong with the camera coverage from that point on, but it does create a serious disconnect between this new installment and the first two films.
The more detrimental alteration is the change in tone. “REC” and “REC 2” are dark, disturbing and meant to scare. “REC 3” is a parody. Rather than let the infected wait in the shadows and then pounce, here, Plaza lets the camera sit on Uncle Victor with an odd and bloody grin on his face in a failed attempt at evoking humor. Things get particularly absurd when Koldo decides to play knight in shining armor – literally. And then there’s the fact that amidst every blood bath, our heroes appear to be ingesting infected blood. There are some great shots of the bride and groom covered in gore, but you’re too busy wondering whether or not it’s seeping into their system to enjoy the imagery. And that imagery and the novelty of zombie-like people invading a wedding is really all “REC 3” has going for it. Dolera and Martín give it their best shot, but the situation is just too silly to take seriously in the least and that, in turn, makes “REC 3” far less frightening than its predecessors, if this can even be linked to its predecessors.
No, sequels can’t simply copy what worked before, but when someone comes back for more “REC,” there are expectations, like found footage and horror, both of which are almost entirely absent from “REC 3.” Plaza had the novelty with the wedding backdrop; it should have been so easy to take the basics from the first two films and simply apply them here, but rather than stick with a good thing, he changes it entirely and is bound to lose franchise fans for it.
And regardless of franchise fans’ reception of the film, “REC 3” just isn’t a very good movie. The opening sequence would make for a top-notch short film, but everything that follows is absolutely disastrous, story-wise and tonally, too. Besides Clara and Koldo’s dedication to one another, little to nothing is established, turning “REC 3” into a display of faceless carnage rather than the story of real people trying to survive.