[REC] 3: GENESIS
To say that ‘found footage’ movies are all the rage right now is an understatement. In fact, I sound a little like a broken Furby repeating what so many others have said since PARANORMAL ACTIVITY opened the flood gates in 2009: they’re commercial and cheap to make. Unfortunately, very few manage to be effective. [REC] and [REC] 2 are among that small handful of gems. They sizzle with suspense and there is a genuine, almost overwhelming sense of dread that permeates the films from beginning to end. The key location of both – the apartment complex – and the horrors it contains feel real. Found footage as a genre has been deemed by many to be a flavour-of-the-month gimmick, but what the first two entries do in what is now the [REC] franchise is remove that doubt and showcase bona-fide film-makers stretching their muscles and making audiences shriek.
[REC] 3: GENESIS on the other hand seems to find that lost doubt and bring it back, all while recklessly – although very deliberately so – abandoning the exact elements that made its predecessors stand out on an international level. It would be a push to even categorise [REC] 3 as a found footage film. Beyond the first act, the shaky handheld angle is dropped. And then it becomes a comedy of the splatstick variety. Twenty minutes in, [REC] ceases to be [REC].
The events of Paco Plaza’s film take place either a few hours before the original or run concurrently to it, it is never quite clear. The wedding of a young couple turns from the happiest to the bloodiest day of their lives when the uncle of the groom becomes infected with the mysterious virus and the reception goes to gooey, gory hell as the nameless plague spreads like wildfire, offing suited and booted guests – and seemingly bringing them back to life in zombie-like resurrection – left, right and centre.
The all-too-generous comparisons to Peter Jackson’s BRAINDEAD are as bemusing as the decision to change tone so dramatically. Such bemusement as to the tone of the piece needn’t have mattered beyond the initial comprehension of such a change if it had succeeded in finding the balance between gags and guts, which it fails to do.
The characters become lost in the bloodshed and futile attempts at humour. It’s a film devoid of the shocks and scares that we have come to know from the series and it’s a crying shame.
Word is that Jaume Balaguero’s [REC] 4: APOCALYPSE, the apparent concluding chapter of the series, will return to its straight-up horror roots, and that is good news to say the least. This third part is a sadly misjudged effort that has left me longing for another [REC] as we know it.