“[Rec] 3: Genesis” (2012)
by A.J. Hakari
I know I just put you guys through a month’s worth of fright flicks, but since I actually have something positive to say in horror’s favor this time, I figured it was worth sharing. It concerns the [Rec] series, which has drawn the least ire out of the recent found footage-based films. The first was a lean and effective game of zombie Whack-a-Mole, while the superior second sufficiently stepped up the stakes in terms of story and scares. Now comes [Rec] 3: Genesis, the most self-aware of the lot and the first to step back and acknowledge that the gimmicky presentation its ancestors helped usher in is just a tad played out.
Moving out of the apartment complex that served as home base for the last two features, [Rec] 3 focuses on the wedding of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin). These kids are so over the moon for each other, you’d be let down if their nuptials weren’t disrupted by a viral outbreak. With family and friends succumbing to the strange demonic infection around them, Clara and Koldo are separated during the initial chaos, all hope of a reunion seemingly lost. But even as the ranks of the possessed partygoers swell, the happy couple is bent on getting back together, using chainsaws, maces, and even the power of prayer to combat the bloodthirsty masses to do so.
Since it doesn’t share any characters with its predecessors and takes place concurrently with their events, [Rec] 3 isn’t a dyed-in-the-wool sequel. It’s best described as a companion piece, a chance for the creative team to fiddle around with the franchise without worrying about continuity. If you’re expecting a true follow-up, it’s a spirit-breaker, but [Rec] 3 nevertheless seizes the chance to have fun and comment on its own genre. For starters, the first-person perspective is employed only for the first twenty minutes; it’s when flesh starts getting munched on that the device is discarded, a nice jab at how characters in found footage flicks always roll film even as bodies start dropping. The film knows where it came from, but even as it gives us Koldo in medieval armor and SpongeBob knockoffs blasting away zombies, the silliness never becomes overtly dumb or condescending.
But, you may ask, how does [Rec] 3: Mega Drive stack up as a straight horror movie? In that respect, while it offers terribly few surprises, there’s a good deal of carnage doled out in snappy doses. Director Paco Plaza (co-helmer of the first two [Rec]s) eases us from traditional zombie/infected mayhem into slightly zanier, Evil Dead-ian thrills that see the frothing baddies hilariously chopped up by all means at the characters’ disposal. For as subversive a bent as Plaza adopts, much of [Rec] 3 remains pretty telegraphed, from who’s gonna die to when a jump scare is about to pounce on us. But you care two flips about the protagonists, so when Clara is going full Bruce Campbell on a horde of slobbering ghouls, you’re rooting for her the whole way.
Imperfect as it is, [Rec] 3: Genesis is still more adventurous than its cousins the Quarantine movies in our neck of the woods. While those stagnant productions rehash the same bargain-bin boogeymen, its contemporaries are growing more wry and satirical with each successive picture, all while delivering the appropriate jolts and jumps. [Rec] 3 is a blast, and if you let something like having to read subtitles stand in your way, then it’s your loss, Bucky.