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[Rec]³: Genesis (Paco Plaza, 2012)


[Rec]³: Genesis is a jarring and somewhat unwelcome shift into comedic territory for the successful Spanish found footage zombie series (which has further inspired the Quarantine films in the United States). Directed by Paco Plaza, one half of the filmmaking duo behind the franchise’s first two entries, this film jettisons the tight continuity of its two prequels for a side story, that only happens to be set in the same general locale as its predecessors. Things begin in a familiar fashion as we are introduced to the members of a wedding via two videographers (one of whom might be intended to parody Guillermo Del Toro), who wander around recording the event. [Rec]³ ditches this found footage approach, though, after about twenty minutes, as the camcorder that had been recording the plot events is smashed by an angry victim. This decision to quarantine the shaky camerawork to the pre-credits exposition at once comes as an admission that the handheld cinematography is a gimmick and marks a slide into more conventional (i.e. dull) territory.


After its title card finally splashes on screen, [Rec]³  shifts its focus to a bride (Leticia Dolera) and groom (Javier Botet), who have been separated during the zombie outbreak at their wedding. The rest of the film charts their attempts to reunite, taking on a jokey tone that is likely to come as a surprise for fans of the first two deadly serious features. Something’s gotta give, and perhaps not surprisingly it’s the scares, which are in short supply here. While the first two [Rec] movies were exercises in sustained tension, made more effective due to the extended shots and claustrophobic point of view of the first person camera, this sequel’s rather pedestrian style means that most potentially frightening moments are telegraphed well in advance. While a shift towards comedy is not inherently a bad thing (despite the general failure of horror comedies), what is lamentable is [Rec]³’s  dumb sense of humor. The comedy is anything but inventive, relying largely on the clichés of movie weddings and pleasure taken in seeing stereotypical characters get eaten. Few of the gore effects inspire much in the way of revulsion or chuckles, and director Plaza seems to think his heroine’s self-sufficiency is the funniest joke imaginable. As we watch the bride seize her wedding day, picking up a chainsaw to carve a way back to her beloved, [Rec]³: Genesis wants to invoke classics such as Evil Dead 2 or Braindead, but its derivative nature comes at the expense of everything that made its predecessors worthwhile.



Jeremy Heilman