[REC]3: Genesis deliberately jettisons everything that made the first two films in the franchise frightening and interesting within the first fifteen minutes.
Out goes the cinéma vérité footage angle; out goes the intense atmosphere; out go the scares. The pre-credit sequence – set at a wedding – seems almost like a rebuttal of the first two films, the title of the film only appearing onscreen after a handheld camera has been smashed on the ground and the narrative segues into a much more traditionally shot movie.
From that point onwards, [REC]3 becomes just another joyless exercise in “comic-horror”, referencing other, much better zombie films as it staggers in a chase format towards a rather obvious conclusion.
Our newlyweds, Koldo and Clara, are separated during this lengthy pre-credit sequence, and the rest of the film consists of their increasingly frantic attempts to reunite during a badly staged zombie apocalypse. Minor characters hang around only long enough to make no impression whatsoever and are then dragged off and killed in unexciting ways. Jokes come thin and slow. There’s even a lame Spongebob Squarepants skit. The kinetic energy, intensity, and genuine terror of the first two films are nowhere to be seen. The tone this time is that of strained comedy horror; an unconvincing Shaun of the Dead rip-off that also takes in Brian Yuzna’s superior Return of the Living Dead 3.
The links to the other films in the series are barely tangible: the zombies, when reflected in mirrors, are day-lit doubles of the ‘thing’ from the Barcelona apartment block, rendered un-scary by their clarity of image; footage from the first film plays out on a TV screen in the background; hazmat-suited men prowl the church grounds without anyone wondering why or even asking them what they’re doing. The gore scenes are strangely unconvincing and out of place. We even get some boring 1980s style chainsaw action.
[REC] and [REC]2 used atmosphere, dread and darkness to convey pure horror. [REC]3: Genesis dispenses with all of this, lights its scenes too brightly, and tries to keep the audience awake with CGI bloodshed. But we’ve seen it all before, and done so much better. These days, audiences are too sophisticated to settle for such measly fare.
Events (or non-events) lumber along in this turgid manner until we reach a sign-posted resolution, and the baffled viewer is left wondering why someone would even bother to sully the reputation of a classic horror franchise with this kind of derivative twaddle.
Word is that a fourth film will return to the scary, unflinching roots of the series. One wonders if [REC]3: Genesis hasn’t already spoiled the fun.
“After the bleak, survival horror encounters that provoked genuine fear in its predecessors, [Rec]3 veers off in a perplexing and wholly different direction. This is not an evolution of the series, but rather a step so wildly off-course that Genesis really shouldn’t have had the [Rec] name attached to it. As a standalone horror comedy [Rec]3 isn’t bad but it’s certainly nothing special. An insult to what was a fantastic series up until this point.”
“Possibly the most Marmite horror picture to come along in quite a while. Fans either seem to love or hate this film, with very little middle ground. Rec 3 is a well-made zombie romp that recaptures some of the anarchistic kineticism of the original while at the same time broadening the canvas in terms of emotional content to include some well-placed humour and a highly endearing sense of romance. Utterly charming and one of the best feel good horror films in years – if you don’t like this one you have no soul.”
JOHN LLEWELLYN PROBERT
“Whereas the first two films concentrated on claustrophobic scares and dabbled with extra dimensions, [REC]3 has eschewed this (as well as the handheld footage angle) and decided to take a more balls-to-the-wall horror tact with itself. Whilst some moments – such as the chainsaw wielding bride – work well in this form, you can’t help thinking that the series has taken a mis-step in this decision. Watchable, but don’t expect the frights of the originals.”
“While it takes a major stylistic detour from its predecessors (and isn’t as good as either of them), [REC]3 remains a hell of a lot of fun. Well drawn characters, a charming love story at the core, and an adherence to the mythology laid down previously leaves it an enjoyable, and rather light, experience. Here’s hoping that the more comedic stance shown is intended as a brief respite before some truly horrific happenings in Balaguero’s upcoming [REC] Apocalypse.”
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