Most of the time when you’re dealing with the third film in a franchise, the easiest way to enjoy it is to have been a fan of the previous installments. In the unique case of ‘[REC]³ Génesis’ however, fans of the prior movies may not have nearly as good a time as others. The reason for this? Well, co-writer/director Paco Plaza has decided to go in a far different direction for his latest sequel, giving the flick a tone closer to horror comedies than I think anyone expects. He also makes a very unique decision in terms of the found footage aspect of the film, a hallmark of the franchise. Plaza has the format only utilized for roughly the first 15 or 20 minutes of the film (essentially just an extended prologue/setup for the action), then switching to a traditional filmmaking method, though it’s done in a way that winks and nods to the prior format. It’s something I don’t know that I’ve ever seen before, and it’s a choice I really admire, since it would have probably been easier to just keep plugging away like he did with ‘[REC]‘ and ‘[Rec] ²’ (which he co-directed with Jaume Balagueró). That all being said, it could potentially alienate fans of the series and overall this still isn’t a phenomenally effective movie, but it does enough interesting and meta things to keep it from being completely forgettable. It’s a step up from the last part of the trilogy, but it’s still not as scary as the original. Overall, it’s simply decent, which can sometimes be a compliment for the horror genre. In my eyes, it gets a recommendation, but with some strong caveats, so take those into account when deciding if the film is worth your time. It opens in September, so make a note of that.
The film starts out as a wedding video before the transition occurs. It’s supposed to be the happiest day in the young lives of Koldo (Diego Martín) and Clara (Leticia Dolera), as their getting married. Things begin nicely enough, even with Clara a bit anxious over a secret she needs to tell Koldo, but the peace won’t be kept for long. Koldo’s uncle showed up with a bite wound from a few days back, and soon it consumes him and he comes infected and for all intents and purposes a zombie. Chaos then ensues, with a handful of survivors getting out of the ballroom alive (this is also the point with the POV hand-held camera tactics cease and a more traditional viewpoint is adopted). Koldo and Clara are unharmed, but they’re separated, leading him to put off escape in order to rescue the woman that he loves. She’s hardly a damsel in distress though, so they spend most of the movie killing the undead in increasingly brutal and often humorous ways (literally from a suit of armor to prayer) until they’re finally reunited. The question is, can they get out alive now that they’re together again?
There’s a lot of overacting here, but it’s a low budget horror movie, so that pretty much comes along with the territory. The main characters are the only ones you actually care about to any degree, so that’s a credit to Diego Martín and Leticia Dolera. Martín begins a bit passively before embracing the heroic husband role, and the actor shows the transition in about as organic a way as possible. As for Dolera, she’s a bit more out there in terms of extremes, but there are more laughs to be had with her character’s arc and her performance in general. Neither are especially great, but they’re certainly fine. As for the supporting cast, they include Javier Botet, Ismael Martínez, Àlex Monner, Carla Nieto, Mireia Ros, and Ana Isabel Velásquez. The acting isn’t what you’re here to see of course, but no one embarrasses themselves, so that’s certainly something.
Paco Plaza is directing on his own for the first time with this flick, and he certainly doesn’t lack for ambition. The aforementioned decision to begin with the hallmark POV nature of the franchise and then literally cast it aside (a real clever way of transitioning when you see it) works as a statement about how this is his film more than any other in the trilogy (it’ll become a quadrilogy in the next year or two, though he’s reportedly not involved). Once it’s a more traditional looking horror movie, it relies on humor more than anything else to stand out, and he more or less succeeds. The plot is pretty throwaway and the ending is lacking, but Plaza does keep things moving pretty well. The script however, is a little more problematic. Plaza along with co-writers Luiso Berdejo and David Gallart (who’s also the editor on the flick) fails to make use of the more open world this time around, leading to the feeling of a bit of a missed opportunity. They incorporate black comedy mostly well, and they obviously had fun writing this, but it didn’t fully show up on the screen. I do wonder where the franchise will go next, so there’s that, even if Plaza might not be actually involved next time around…
Overall, ‘[REC]³ Génesis’ is a fun flick, but it’s not an especially great one, so it really will mainly have an appeal for fans of horror/comedy hybrids. Fans of the prior films in the franchise will probably check it out too, but they very well might wind up disappointed. It’s very different than the other two movies, so that could be a concern. This is obviously not a mainstream flick, but it’s worth your time if you’re looking forward to it in any way. I hope this Early Review was informative for you in that regard, as I think the movie and the new direction that it goes in could either really work or really fall on its face, depending on who you are. Heed my words and make up your mind for yourself in a few weeks when the film opens!
-Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!