Tuesday, April 9, 2013

[REC] 3: Genesis (2012)

Directed by Paco Plaza

SPOILERS for people who haven't seen [REC] 1 and 2.

Newlyweds Koldo and Clara search for each other after their wedding is crashed by demon-possessed zombies.

At first, this looks like the natural next step in the [REC] series. The first two took place in the same building, and right from the start, this one has a different location, with a larger cast and scale. For the first twenty minutes, it's what you would expect--footage from cameras recording the wedding and hints that someone may be 'infected,' all with a realistic tone. It's a little slow, but after seeing the first two you're expecting things to get crazy, and sure enough, they do: suddenly there are people running around screaming, blood flying, all that good stuff.

And the movie...goes in a different direction.

The first two movies were directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, but this time Plaza goes solo, with Balaguero working on part 4, which probably helps explain the changes.

Knowing that fans of the first two (excellent) [REC] movies tend to dislike, or even hate this one didn't reduce my anticipation for seeing it. I went in knowing the found-footage angle is almost entirely abandoned after that first twenty minutes and that there was a substantial amount of humor in this one.

I was expecting something like the changeover from The Evil Dead to Evil Dead 2. A combination of horror and humor in the vein of The Monster Squad, Slither, or Ghostbusters, something that could be described as a comedy (as I have seen this movie described). While I would have loved a straight continuation of the series, I was open to something like that.

But that's not what this is. Yes, there is humor, but it never comes to the forefront. The movie would be better compared to Tremors or They Live; there are funny things in it, but no real flat-out jokes. Things like Koldo wearing a suit of armor and carrying a shield to protect himself from the infected, or Clara using a chainsaw to cut her dress so she can run faster. The closest thing to an outright joke is a guy who goes to the wedding dressed as 'SpongeJohn SquarePants' because of a copyright dispute, who then has to run around in a sponge costume. Either way, these are certainly not things that fit in with the previous movies.

Once the film switches away from found-footage, we do get a few Evil Dead-style tilted camera angles that felt out of place to me, even given the context of this movie, but after that none of the humor bothered me. Yes, I would have preferred continuing with the scary, serious, claustrophobic atmosphere of the first two, but that didn't mean the change in tone was necessarily bad. You still feel for the characters (well, the main two, at least), and that's what really matters, right?

Unfortunately, the movie has other problems. Side characters get their own little moments, only to either die or disappear the next second. The movie in general seems to set things up that don't really go anywhere, like subplots without any kind of resolution. The second movie revealed that the 'infected' were possessed by demons, and this movie at times seems to be heading for a deeper revelation about that and what's behind it all, but by the end we haven't learned anything new.

Do the differences between this one and its predecessors make it as unwatchable as some claim? No. Certainly, it is a disappointment after the greatness of the first two. But that doesn't mean it's a bad movie. Unfortunately, I wouldn't call it a particularly good one either. Hopefully Balaguero proves with the next one that he was behind the high quality of the first two.

As of this posting, [REC] 3: Genesis is streaming on Netflix.

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