Five years after their found footage horror film “[Rec]” trapped us in a Spanish apartment building with its increasingly cannibalistic tenants, and three years after the excellent “[Rec] 2” came back to the same night to spin those same events into something more unsettling and supernatural, co-directors/co-writers Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza have parted ways, with Plaza going solo on the latest film in the series up for discussion today, which remixes the formula yet again.
Oh, they didn’t break up or anything–the duo simply split chores for this film and the upcoming fourth installment, with Plaza all but dropping the shoulder-mounted shaky cam approach for a more direct horror with a dashes of comedy and splatter horror thrown in. And while I would have personally preferred a continuation of the demonic finale of their last film, “[Rec] 3: Genesis,” certainly has a few good things going for it–and its greatest asset is lead actress Leticia Dolera, who plays the increasingly blodd-splattered bride, Clara.
Clara and Koldo (Diego Martín) are celebrating their big day with their friends and family in a large banquet hall when suddenly one of the guests, who seems drunk at first, plummets from a balcony onto a table below. If that isn’t ruinous for your wedding day, then it’s an outright disaster when he gets back up and attacks one of the guests, infecting them with the same thing that’s making him a bloodthirsty not-zombie. The loving couple get separated early on, spending much of the movie on parallel tracks trying to find each other amidst all of the carnage.
“[Rec] 3″ pulls a slight bait and switch for the first 15 to 20 minutes of its running time, with all the action taking place through the camera of wannabe videographer Cousin Adrián (Alex Monner); that means a lot of jittery, occasionally unfocused action and some of the same tropes we’ve come to associate with the genre (Plaza’s and co-writer Luiso Berdejo’s script even pokes fun at this with the professional wedding videographer constantly telling the junior cameraman that everyone wants realistic shooting styles). But after that slightly too-long fake out, Plaza’s camera settles into a more traditional narrative feature (albeit one with flesh-eating kind-of-but-not-quite zombies on the loose in a church).
The sequel carries over some of the mythology from the last film, in particular its monsters’ fear and loathing of biblical scripture, but it’s not entirely clear at what point in the first two films’ sequence of events “Genesis” is taking place (I would have to guess after) given the government response in the third act. No one in the dwindling cast is safe from being eviscerated so don’t get too attached because they’re not going to be around for long.
Koldo and Clara make a charming and sweet couple–each dead certain that the other is still alive because they can feel it in their hearts. She has a wedding day secret that you’ll probably guess when its first hinted at early in the movie, but it gives the young lovers all the more reason to find each other (and makes the ending surprisingly poignant).
I feel bad for actor Diego Martín, who does fine work here as a loving boyfriend, because his role is overshadowed by actress Leticia Dolera who, among other things, gets to wield a chainsaw and have some of the biggest moments in the film. Besides being gorgeous with her wide frightened and later fierce eyes, Dolera happens to carry the movie’s comedy well, morphing from a terrified bride to a cartoonishly tough action heroine with ease. I could spend a few more words writing about Ms. Dolera, but I think anything more than what’s here would probably be construed (not inaccurately) as a love note.
That balance of comedy and horror is handled ably by the rest of the cast and the script, although some of the pacing hurts the tone of the film (it takes a while to get started in earnest). Still, it’s a worthy effort in the series and a nice twist on the first two.
You can find screening locations and available VOD services for “[Rec] 3: Genesis” on its official site.