Film Review – [REC] 3: Genesis
When The Blair Witch Project was released in 1999 to huge audiences and huger pupils, it opened the floodgates for a slew of low-budget horror movies, a good deal of them sharing/aping the “found footage” aesthetic. While a few of these films managed to transcend the genre and stand on their own merits (Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity), most proved to be little more than cheap knock-offs. Anyone can throw a camera on some attractive friends as they tear around in the woods, but it takes at least a modicum of talent to generate true sympathy or fear for its subjects.
[REC] 3: Genesis is an odd sort of beast. The second sequel to 2007’s [REC] and coming in at a meager 85 minutes, one might expect it to kick into high gear pretty quickly. After all, the first two films in the series have already done a pretty decent job of laying the groundwork. Instead, I’d wager the first quarter of the film is composed of aimless camcorder footage showcasing the nuptials of Koldo (Diego Martín) and Clara (Leticia Dolera), a beautiful young couple we come to learn next to nothing about. The bulk of this footage is taken by Koldo’s cousin, Adrián, but is occasionally (and confusingly) intercut with shots from the wedding photographer.
As we move to the wedding reception, we’re exposed (ha cha cha) to Adrián’s uncle and a hand wound he’s nursing. He claims it’s the result of a dog bite, but once he begins violently vomiting copious amounts of bile and blood, it becomes clear all is not as it seems. Add to that the sudden police presence and hazmat suits, and we’ve got ourselves the makings for a good ol’ fashioned outbreak. Biting and bloodshed ensue.
Amidst the chaos and confusion, Koldo and Clara are separated. Koldo pairs up with Adrián and destroys the camera in a fit of rage. The title (finally) appears on screen and the found footage angle is dropped in favor of a more traditional perspective. Now, this turn could have been interesting if we’d been given even a hint of these characters patterns or motivations up until this point. As it stands, the first 20 minutes of the film are so meandering it makes it almost impossible to care.
Clara successfully escapes the reception hall and finds solace in a chapel where other survivors have begun congregating. Conveniently, the “infected” can’t enter because of the presence of holy water (or some such nonsense). These zombies are a clever lot, though, and soon find a loophole.
But you didn’t come here for a deconstruction of plot points, did you? Koldo and Clara must find their way back to one another and will disgustingly destroy everything in their path to do so. Anything else the movie establishes is merely consequential. This is frustrating as a viewer, because there are a number of underdeveloped themes and characters that could have had a real impact if only they’d been fleshed out. Take, for instance, a tag-along survivor stuck donning a knock-off Spongebob outfit because he’s naked underneath. Or Koldo’s inexplicable decision to don knight’s armor. And, of course, young Clara, tearing her wedding dress down to a place of sexy functionality and wielding a chainsaw. Fun enough ideas, sure, but the reveal and execution of each is so glossed over it just leaves you feeling disoriented.
Perhaps I’m looking at this from the wrong angle. Asking too much. Is it presumptuous of me to expect coherency or genuine thrills from a silly little zombie movie? If you answered yes, then by all means, feast away.
Final Grade: D-