The wedding day of young couple Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin) starts off as a remarkably happy and trouble free affair. The weather is lovely and everyone’s smiling, the only thing ruining it is the introduction of a nasty little virus which has a habit of turning all those victim to it into rampaging beasts. When they are separated by the events, Clara and Koldo try to re-connect but run into many obstacles along the way.
Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero’s REC films are two of the most innovative, technically impressive and balls-out scary films made in recent years. These short, sharp bursts of found footage wonder show us that this rather tired method of filmmaking can still feel fresh if used in conjuction with engaging plotting and they remain etched in the mind’s eye of virtually anyone who watches them. The question after the events of REC 2 is how do you follow up a situation where lightning really did strike twice? The plan was to make two follow up movies with each director splitting up and making his own, with Balaguero’s REC 4 – Apocalypse due next year and Genesis arriving now.
The result of this is genuinely painful to write about for someone who has such a great deal of affection for the first two films. REC 3 – Genesis is not only the worst film of the series thus far – by quite a distance – but even without the context of those films remains a below-average bore with very little to excite genre fans.
Much has been said already about the big stylistic change made by director Paco Plaza but it certainly remains the biggest talking point of the film. In the opening 20 minutes, it feels like a REC film, the way the footage is presented is fun and fresh (though in the big picture makes no sense at all) and the introduction of the characters – while things look ominous in the background – give hope that yes, they have managed to find a way to do this footage that again feel somewhat new but after a critical moment, things change. And boy, is it banged into our heads.
After a camera is forced out of hand, the red light blinks off, the aspect ratio changes and suddenly we are in the world of contemporary direct-to-video horror filmmaking. Complete with “kooky” characters waiting to be bumped off, a woefully generic score, scares so poorly telegraphed that my barely paying attention wife called them out 30 seconds before they happened and a style which while very slick, the film obviously having a decent budget and using it on-screen well, completely feels at odds with what has been had before. To make matters worse, it feels like Paco Plaza is labouring the point that this is different and he’s not afraid to be daring.
Adding to the woe also, is that in all the attention paid to stylistic difference there’s a sense that the intricate, really quite daring plotting of the first two films has gone out the window with the film giving us absolutely no advancement on the mythology and instead feels like a side-story. Something close to the idea of Downloadable Content in the video game world. An adventure set in the same universe that gives nothing new other than being more “stuff”. It will be interesting to see REC 4 finish up this series now, as there’s a large chance in the future it will be possible to skip straight onto that film and get the exact same amount of story from the series as a whole.
REC 3 – Genesis may well be one of the biggest disappointments of the year. Despite a strong start, a change which was supposed to freshen up the series has instead stagnated it. With the majority of the things that have made this series such a joy in the past seemingly erased from memory and replaced with what feels like a name only franchise spin-off bringing nothing of any real worth and, in the end, feeling pretty much pointless.