SXSW Film: [Rec] 3 Genesis

I’ve been quite the proponent of the [Rec] series of films thus far. With the growing plethora of found footage of first-person-style films, the series has stood out – thanks to its claustrophobic settings and ability to build tension like few others have. The series has pulled off the rare feat of having the second film in the series be as good as (if not possibly better) than the first. I often compare the first two films in the series to Alien and Aliens, another first and second in a series I love.

When I read that there was to be a third and forth [Rec] film, having the series co-directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza separate with each taking on independent duty in the films, I was intrigued. Balaguero is handling the duties on the fourth film in the franchise, and Plaza is taking on the duties of the third film, [Rec]3 Genesis. Since the second [Rec] film seemingly brought the story of the first and second to a close, I wondered what the third would offer. Rumors had it that the origin of the “virus” (that turned the apartment dwellers in the complex from the first two films into those more modern type of running zombies) might be one of the plot elements of the film. Or not. It was hard to say. The mythologies of the film haven’t been too heavily explored up to now, which in today’s world of prequels explaining ‘all that is scary of old horror monsters’ is welcoming as well as something that has made me a fan of the series.  Therefore, walking into [Rec]3 Genesis I had no expectations, since I hadn’t seen a trailer for the film or heard a whole lot about it leading up to its world premiere here at SXSW 2012.

[Rec] 3 Genesis is nothing like you’d think. The film opens with a DVD menu of a wedding offering up the ability to watch a ‘slideshow’ or the ‘wedding video’. The film then sets up somewhat similar to the previous film: giving us a quick glimpse at those that have cameras for this entry in the the franchise. What follows, however, is a second act that (*POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT*) ditches the series’ long running use of the first-person footage in favor of a more traditional widescreen shot film.

[Rec] 3 Genesis also offers up another first to the [Rec] franchise by introducing quite a bit of humor. Think Evil Dead or Army of Darkness levels of humor with slap stick. Considering how the series’ first two films were straight horror and terror, this is a definite departure from those previous outings. Does it work? Yes and no. [Rec] 3 takes place at the wedding of Clara (the strikingly beautiful Leticia Dolera) and Nina (the equally handsome Javier Botet). The two will prove that they are very much in love with each other over the course of the film. Said film is in effect a straight on typical wedding film, including: the ‘drunk uncle’ causing trouble – in this case, real fatal trouble – for the weddings guests, the slutty bridesmaid hooking up with one of the grooms friends, obnoxious bro-like grooms friends, etc. All the typical wedding film tropes are on display.

As a viewer, when these first hints of comedic overtones made their appearance, I wasn’t sure if it was intentional until the second or third time it occurred. For me it was a bit off-putting, given the circumstances and the film’s story, however it ultimately works. It was just jarring to see a  [Rec] film take a whole new approach. If anything, [Rec] 3 reinvents the series and expands on the universe it has created. The first two films make fleeting appearances in the film, and some of origins are slightly explored and lightly expanded upon – but not much new information or revelations are really revealed. For that it seems fans will have to wait for [Rec] 4, due sometime in the next year.

Ultimately, I feel that [Rec] 3 Genesis will split fans of the series. If you like your horror with a dash of comedy, you’re likely going to enjoy much of [Rec] 3. If you’re more of a purist to the [Rec] series and the mythology of its existing style, the jumps that [Rec] 3 makes might be too much. The film suffers by feeling like it was written for something else before being plugged into the [Rec] world. I guess (like other film series) not all good things last forever. Here is hoping that the fourth film redeems the series and gives it a fitting end. At this point I’m not sure if I’ll be rushing to find out.

I give [Rec 3]: Genisis 2 “chainsaw/exposed garter belts” out of 5.

By John Coovert

John Coovert

About John Coovert

John was fortunate enough to be born in one of the most magical times of cinema: the eighties. Having an ultra cool aunt that introduced him to awesome sci-fi (Alien, Aliens, Terminator, Predator) and horror (Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Jaws) on VHS, and a cool mom that took him to the theater to see films like Back to the Future, Return of the Jedi, and Goonies, it's no wonder he fell in love with one of the finest forms of escapist entertainment, film. John continues to appreciate all forms of film, actively seeking out information and discussing it with all who will listen.

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