[REC] 3: Genesis (2012)

Paco Plaza

Diego Martin - Koldo
Leticia Dolera - Clara
Xavier Ruano - Father Albelda
Alex Monner - Adrian
Ismael Martinez - Rafa
Miguel Angel Gonzalez - John Sponge
Sr. B - Atun
Emilio Mencheta - Uncle Pepe Victor

Genre - Horror/Comedy/Virus/Demons/Found Footage

Running Time - 80 Minutes

Koldo (Diego Martin) and Clara (Leticia Dolera), a young happy couple, are excited to be together on their wedding day in front of family and friends. The beautiful ceremony goes off without a hitch, as Koldo and Clara are announced husband and wife. However, during the reception, Uncle Pepe Victor (Emilio Mencheta) - who was bitten by a dog earlier in the day and is under the weather from it - turns demonic and bites his wife's face. This starts an outbreak where the reception is overrun by demonic zombies. The couple is separated, but quickly do whatever they can to get past their obstacles to reunite. If not, looks like the honeymoon is out.


Like I have already mentioned recently, 2007's [REC] is not only one of the best "found footage" films ever made [probably top 5], but [REC] is also one of the best horror films in the last ten years. 2009's [REC] 2 tried to recapture the first film's quality, but didn't manage to do so - even though the sequel is a watchable flick that continues the story in an interesting way. Somewhere along the way, the directors of the two films - Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza - decided to go their separate ways to direct their own individual sequels. Balaguero signed up for [REC] 4: APOCALYPSE, which will be released on Halloween. Plaza signed up for [REC] 3: GENESIS, a sequel that occurs during the events of the first two films, but with different characters within a different situation. Plaza, probably feeling that the "found footage" trend felt a bit tired, decided to only use that technique for 20 percent of the film, relying on regular cinematic mode for the rest of the runtime. Plaza also added more comedic situations and a love story to separate it from the previous two films. While the changes are appreciated, it will divide fans of the first two films. [REC] 3 is one of those films you'll like or you won't. While I do enjoy it on an entertainment level, it doesn't really fit within the franchise to me.

Good Things: I think the best part about [REC] 3: GENESIS is the acting, especially from the two leads. Leticia Dolora gets more of the screen time as Clara, our blushing bride. She's beautiful, smart, and tough. Delora handles a chainsaw quite well, becoming your typical final girl. I do think her transition from bride to badass chick who can kick your ass happened way too quickly to be believable, but Delora manages to make it work for the most part. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Deigo Martin is more of the comedic lead. He's involved in the more silly situations, dressing in a suit of armor and using a sword with hesitation. I thought he was very good in the role. And whenever the two shared the screen together, I really liked their chemistry. The other actors were good too, especially Ismael Martinez as Rafa and Miguel Angel Gonzalez as John Sponge. But Delora and Martin carried the film well.

Speaking of Delora and Martin, the love story between Clara and Koldo worked for me. I'm sure some [REC] fans hate the romance in what was once a bleak franchise. But I liked the stuff leading to the wedding, the actual ceremony, the fun reception, and even the characters' motivations to find each other through the apocalypse because of the love they shared for each other. The love aspect was written well, and helped by two actors who convinced you that they really cared for each other. And I thought the ending, which wasn't the greatest, at least made sense for the characters. I could see an actual loving couple handle the situation like these two did.

The direction by Plaza mostly worked as well. I loved how [REC] 3 seemed to be playing off a DVD of wedding footage, with the first act being shot on camcorder as we're introduced to our characters, the situation, and the spread of the virus. And while security cameras and phone cameras shoot more footage every now and then, I'm glad Plaza decided to ditch the handy cam and shoot most of the film with an actual camera lens, cinematic style. The cinematography by Pablo Rosso was absolutely gorgeous. I liked the locations used and how certain human vs. monsters scenes were shot. There was some nice tension at times and the film had a quick pace. Yes, the film probably shouldn't be called [REC] 3 due to the abandonment of what made [REC] [REC]. But it's a welcome change since the "found footage" trend got old pretty quickly.

Of course, the gore is pretty great. We get a lot of people getting bitten. We get a decapitation. Someone gets split right in half. A face gets mangled by a kitchen appliance. Some really bloody stuff. Wouldn't be a [REC] film without it.

Bad Things: I think my biggest criticism is the tone of the film. I don't mind Plaza wanting to put his own twist on the story by making things more comical than tense and/or scary. It worked for EVIL DEAD II. For better or worse, it kind of worked for the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise as well for a bit there. The thing is that those films were pretty funny. [REC] 3 didn't really have that same effect on me, no matter how hard it tried. Yeah, John Sponge was cute the first time we see him. But when he appears again to repeat the same joke, it made me roll my eyes. The armored suit was a bit silly during moments where a serious tone was needed. Even some of the kills play for laughs. It was amusing to watch, but nothing made me laugh or think this was the greatest horror-comedy ever. Silly is fine, but it needs to stay constant. The tone was uneven for me.

I also disliked the way the infected was presented. Here's a case where I liked how they explained things in the previous film, only for this explanation to ruin things in the next one. For one, the infected all acted differently. Some viciously ran and attacked people like the ones from the first two films. But then, we see infected people stumbling around like Romero zombies. Which one is it? Also, I really hated that the reflections of the infected revealed the demon that started this whole epidemic to begin with. It was a bit silly for me. Then, the whole ending with how the infected were stopped during mid-attack. I understand how it came to be, but it just felt lame. Meh.

I also felt that [REC] 3 didn't really capitalize on the ending of [REC] 2. Yes, [REC] 4 will deal with that. But not even mentioning it, or including something related to it, makes the franchise feel disjointed. The comedic tone of this installment, which is the total opposite of the serious tone of the previous two films, only makes this film feel like the black sheep of the franchise so far. Some have called this the HALLOWEEN III of the [REC] franchise so far, and it's not hard to disagree with them.

And while I liked the characters in this film more than I did in [REC] 2, they weren't used enough for me. The side characters were given a bum rap, exiting the film way before they needed to. I felt like I was getting to know certain peeps during the film, but they end up getting killed just when they got interesting. I get Plaza wanted to keep the pace going quickly. But this [REC] film actually had likeable characters that deserved more screen time.

While a fun sequel, [REC] 3: GENESIS doesn't really go full force in continuing what was established in the first two films. The acting was solid, the change in direction [aka getting rid of the "found footage" aspect] was appreciated, and the characters were more likeable than the ones in [REC] 2. But the comedic tone didn't work for me fully and I disliked how the infected was presented. Paco Plaza delivers with the violence and the quick pace, which will satisfy most people. But I was expecting to like it more than I did. I respect Plaza doing his own thing with this installment, even if I feel it's the lesser of the three [REC] films so far. Definitely worthy of a watch if you're a fan, but third time is not the charm with this one.

2.5 Howls Outta 4

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