Review: '[REC]3: Genesis'

By: Heather Seebach

The first [REC] film far exceeded my expectations just by being a found footage horror that was actually good. Then they made a sequel and I thought, "Oh great, now they are going to beat the idea to death." Once again, to my amazement, it was great. So naturally, when [REC]3: Genesis was announced, it made its way high up my list of Must-See Horror Films of 2012. I was not mistaken in my high hopes.

One great thing about this Spanish horror franchise is that each installment adds something new, pushing the series in a different direction. Each time the filmmakers risk turning off fans of the original - some disliked the religious aspect introduced in [REC]2, and even more will reject the light-hearted tone of this latest installment. I applaud the filmmakers for mixing things up rather than simply rehashing the same tired format (I'm looking at you, Paranormal Activity). 

[REC]3: Genesis is directed by Paco Plaza, half the directing team behind the first two films. This one takes place miles away from the apartment building of those films but the events occur simultaneously. At the wedding of Clara and Koldo (played by the gorgeous duo Leticia Dolera and Diego Martin), an infected guest sets off a zombie outbreak and the happy newlyweds are separated amidst the chaos. They must fight off ravenous bridesmaids and family members to find one another again and escape the madness.

The first change that will alienate some fans is the loss of the POV format. The film does start that way, via a wedding video, and the transition is actually quite clever. Few found footage horror movies put this much thought into anything. It is no coincidence there is a Steadicam operator in the film, and who he works for is amusingly tongue-in-cheek, proving that screenwriters Paco Plaza and Luiso Berdejo have not re-built that fourth wall just yet. When a cameraman says, "I have to film everything!" he is met with a "WTF?" reaction, as the filmmakers mock the ridiculous extent to which found footage films go to justify their format.

The second change bound to put off fans is the shift away from terror with more focus on humor and romance now. Before you start gagging, hear me out. There is still an abundance of zombies, gore, and scares, but not unlike, say, Army of Darkness, this third installment shoots for laughs. For the most part it succeeds, despite some excess cheese. As for the romantic stuff, it is handled in the true spirit of a horror flick, but to say more would spoil the fun. I suspect the love story element between Clara and Koldo somehow refers to the title, Genesis - Adam and Eve, perhaps?

[REC]3 ties into its predecessors nicely with references to the earliest victims (human and otherwise), the apartment building, and the Christianity elements of the first sequel. There are also visual references to other horror films, including The Shining and possibly The Thing, Dead Alive, and Re-Animator. The FX (primarily practical) look fantastic and a chainsaw is utilized. What more do you need?

The wedding is a fantastic locale for a zombie film, as anxieties are already high, and the protagonists are forced to kill their loved ones on a massive scale. Just imagine two whole families being reduced to the shambling undead and trying to eat you on the happiest day of your life. Plus, all those gowns and tuxedos make for some classy zombies!

[REC]3: Genesis is more like a spin-off than a true sequel or prequel. The format, story, and tone are very different from its predecessors, but it operates within the same universe. It will not scare you like the other films did, but it does not have to. It is simply another perspective (literally) on the outbreak event. One more sequel is planned in this franchise, [REC]4: Apocalypse, to be directed by the other half of the [REC] team, Jaume Balagueró. It is also expected to eschew the found footage format. Even with its more traditional make-over, I cannot wait for the final installment!

[REC]3: Genesis is currently available from Video-on-Demand, and hits theaters on Friday, September 7th.

 out of 5

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