Sony // 2012 // 80 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // November 27th, 2012
You may kiss the bride.
[REC] remains the gold standard of found footage horror. It's a sub-genre I don't have a lot of love for, but [REC] is not only the best of its kind, it's a superior horror film, one of the very best of the last decade. I was excited when the sequel was announced, especially since it was made by the same people who orchestrated the original. I was even more excited when reviews came out that, on the whole, from both critics and fans, were extremely positive, some even saying it was better than the original. I hated it. It betrayed everything that made the first film great. I don't hate it today as I used to, but I'm still no fan, which is one reason I think I enjoyed its follow up, [REC] 3: Genesis, because it's fundamentally different in almost every way.
Clara (Leticia Dolera, Man Push Cart) and Koldo (Diego Martín, I Want You) are a beautiful couple ecstatic on their wedding day. Their friends and family are all in attendance and the wedding goes off without a hitch. Then, during the reception, an uncle who had complained earlier in the day of a dog bite he suffered that morning, freaks out and bites his wife's face. Suddenly, the reception is overrun with zombies and the happy couple must find a way to escape, or there won't be much of a honeymoon.
I have no doubt that people are going to have very mixed reactions to [REC] 3: Genesis. The story takes place earlier on the same day as the first two, and though director Paco Plaza ([REC]) makes logical sense of that and there are subtle connections to the previous installments, everything else about the film is different.
For the first twenty minutes or so, [REC] 3 is still from a first-person perspective, this time taking the form of a wedding memories video. After a symbolic smashing of a camera, though, it shifts into the typical cinematic mode. For me, that's a relief. What was novel about the original film was its outward use of a professional cameraman's perspective. It made sense that a pro would know how to get and hold a shot, even under duress, and as a journalist, would be more concerned with documentation than his own safety. The sequel throws that away for helmet cams and teens with a camcorder, which devolved the technique into the same old shaky garbage. Confusion does not equal tension and if the directors (who were the same for both films) have to make me work to even tell what is going on, they have failed. While I appreciate the change to normal camerawork in this third installment, many fans of the first two will feel betrayed by it.
While it's a big change, it's not the biggest one. That belongs to the fact that [REC] 3 is a comedy, with comedy far more in the vein of Shaun of the Dead than its own series. Again, people who fetishize the morbidity of the first two films (a group that includes myself) may not entirely accept the new tone of the film. As one who doesn't feel that horror and comedy go together as well as others might, I wasn't particularly happy with this, but it works for what it is. It's mostly slapstick stuff, and while I don't know if the gags ever brought more than few chuckles out of me, the mood is kept light.
Don't worry about the jokes, though; [REC] 3 brings the violence, with tons of zombie action and plenty of blood. It starts slow and romantic, once the mayhem starts, it doesn't stop until the final scene. Between face biting and amputations by way of swords, chainsaws, and anything else that's on hand, there's something here for every gorehoud. It's fun and often effective, but the story is also patently absurd just as often. Of course, any time one is dealing with demon rabies that turns people into bloodthirsty freaks, there's going to be an inherent lack of believability, but the jokes mean that viewers will have to stretch a little farther than they did for the first two films.
The story isn't great, and the finish is pretty disappointing, but the performances are decent, especially from the two leads. They are forced to go from romantic newlyweds to zombie killers in a second and both does a pretty good job of it. They get separated early on, so part of the story involves them getting back together, and it works fairly well. Leticia Dolora gets most of the screen time, as well as the chainsaw, and she's a tough lead. Diego Martín, with his sword and suit of armor that he somehow gets his hands on, is a little sillier, but he makes it work. Overall, the whole thing works for me, mostly because, at the very least, doesn't try to give me the same thing for a third consecutive time. People going in for just that might be disappointed by what Paco Plaza delivers with [REC] 3, but taken for what it is, the film is violent and amusing, which should satisfy most everyone else.
Sony's DVD of [REC] 3: Genesis is a standard affair, with solid technical details and a few extras. The 1.85:1 anamorphic image is strong. The transfer is crisp and error-free, though it looks better after the transition to third person, which I'm sure is intentional. Black levels are deep, whites are very bright, and colors are accurate. There's nothing to complain about with that or the sound, which is an excellent Dolby 5.1 Surround mix. There is good separation in all the channels with strong spatial effects and a lot of work on the low end.
For extras, we have about thirty minutes of deleted scenes, some of which actually should have been included in the final product, which is extremely rare for me to claim. A couple of them make the reason for all the zombies a lot more clear and, given the short running time, could have gone in without slowing the film down too much. We also have a reel of outtakes, which is always pointless, but some people like to watch that stuff, I suppose. It's not a great disc, but it'll do.
[REC] 3 is best dealt with on its own terms rather than in comparison to the first two films. While it has a connection, it is a very different film in both style and tone and shouldn't be dismissed because of that. For those who can't stand it, though, and there will be plenty, don't worry. Jaume Balagueró, the other director of the first films, is returning to direct the fourth installment in the franchise, so you can get your first person nausea fix that way.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes