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Friday, November 18, 2022

‘REC 3: Genesis’ – Reappraising the Zombie Franchise’s Oddball Sequel

While other horror franchises can be accused of rehashing themselves with each new entry, every part of the REC series feels like a different movie. The original sets things into motion with staggering execution and results, and the follow-up expands on the lore. After the events of REC 2, it made sense for Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza to explore the world they had created. So the duo split up for the remaining two movies in the zombie series, with Plaza taking on the third installment. While it would seem like Balagueró got the better end of the deal — his sequel REC 4: Apocalypse ties directly into Ángela Vidal’s story — Plaza was handed a golden opportunity to do something outside the main plot. 

When asked about the new changes of REC 3: Genesis, Plaza said he and Balagueró “wanted to get some fresh air.” However, their decision didn’t sit well with everyone. Some people found the new direction to their liking, whereas others were disappointed. The latter group undoubtedly takes issue with what happens after the first act, but before that decisive transition, Genesis is more in line with the first two movies. Here a young couple, Clara and Koldo (Leticia Dolera, Diego Martín), is getting married inside a luxurious estate. The ceremony is initially picturesque and free of problems, but everything changes at the afterparty.

REC 3 is shot like a first-person movie up until the twenty-minute mark. The short tedium seen before that point helps to establish an air of realism, as well as offset the eventual chaos. The insignificant encounters and conversations among the wedding party, the informal video interviews, and the ceremony itself — it’s all part of a familiar routine. This “calm before the storm” period doesn’t last too long, seeing as one guest’s foreboding injury, a work-related dog bite, brings on the outbreak and mayhem you were promised. After a brief waiting period, you bear witness to one of the most disastrous weddings in horror.


How Plaza repeals the first-person technique is aggressive. The resident wedding videographer, Atún (Sr. B), had planned to record the sudden zombie chaos. He even delivered the hackneyed line so many characters before him have said or thought to justify filming in these kinds of situations: “People have a right to know what’s going on! I have to film everything!” In a fit of rage, the groom then destroys Atún’s camera. This interaction reads like frustration on the director’s part; it’s as if Plaza is using Koldo to express his own conflicted feelings. Of course it’s at this precise juncture when the movie’s title appears on screen, signaling the start of the “real” REC 3. This whole scene is a tremendous way to say “no more found footage.”

As to be expected, everything from here on out feels and looks considerably different. The cinéma vérité technique is abandoned for something more rehearsed and polished. REC and REC 2 were definitely styled, but in a way that felt lifelike and instant. This sequel’s style is on the other end of the spectrum; it’s cinematic and slick. The same sense of urgency is still in place, though the immediacy is gone. You’re no longer in one person’s shoes; the movie cuts back and forth between parties as they struggle to find each other. This affords the story a bigger playground, but it’s at the expense of effectual tension.

When compared to the first and second movies, REC 3 is nowhere as intense. There’s no bated breath as characters wander in the dark, pondering what might await them. You don’t feel anyone’s fear here. At the same time, Plaza provides a more graphic and straightforward presentation. There is no real need to shroud the zombies in mystique anymore. Showing the threat in plain view, not to mention taking the time to slaughter them in a handful of gruesome and detailed set pieces, is refreshing. After the previous movies did such a fantastic job of obscuring and empowering the zombies, this parallel story forces them out into the open.


The characters populating found footage can often be repellent; their most uncomfortably human traits are unfiltered, as well as magnified by the camera being shoved in their faces. Yet after being forced to identify with them and their predicaments, you might be able to root for their survival on a fundamental level. Caring about them, based solely on their personalities, varies from movie to movie. At the very least, REC 3 isn’t as confrontational about its characters. Clara and Koldo are singled out as the protagonists from the get-go, but it’s their astonishing ability to beat the odds and fight for each other that endears them to you. Getting attached to them in the same way as you did with Ángela Vidal seems unlikely. Nevertheless, Clara and Koldo are sympathetic characters.

Some have argued that comedy and horror aren’t compatible, and those who feel that way are likely not going to enjoy REC 3. After all, the first two entries were deadly serious with overwhelming stakes. Going from that to this movie is bound to cause some tonal whiplash, especially if you prefer your horror to play things 100% straight. It’s not as though Plaza is channeling the output of Álex de la Iglesia or early Peter Jackson. The humor here is selective and relatively controlled as opposed to full-on zany. Plaza does a good job of balancing absurdity with grotesquery. Based on this and his lesser known movie A Christmas Tale, Plaza would be wise to pursue making more dark comedies.

Watching this for the first time, both unaware of the changes and expecting something more in line with the original, is bound to elicit an adverse reaction. But after some time apart, and after accepting the sequel for what it is rather than what it isn’t, REC 3: Genesis is mightily entertaining in ways that its predecessors aren’t. Plaza’s solo movie is still the oddball of this franchise, but it’s not without charm or merit.

Horrors Elsewhere is a recurring column that spotlights a variety of movies from all around the globe, particularly those not from the United States. Fears may not be universal, but one thing is for sure — a scream is understood, always and everywhere.


The post ‘REC 3: Genesis’ – Reappraising the Zombie Franchise’s Oddball Sequel appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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