[REC] 3: Genesis (2012)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Connections: [REC]

The action now takes place miles away from the original location and partly in broad daylight, giving the film an entirely fresh yet disturbing new reality. The infection has left the building. In a clever twist that draws together the plots of the first two movies, this third part of the saga also works as a decoder to uncover information hidden in the first two films and leaves the door open for the final installment, the future '[REC] 4 Apocalypse.' --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: March 12, 2013
Well, I have to say that [REC] 3 was a bit of a shocker. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but it was definitely shocking. You see, I loved the first movie; in fact, I called it "one of the best horror movies of the decade" in my review for the sequel. Speaking of that sequel, I loved it almost as much as the original... it was definitely an excellent movie, and it proved that not all sequels suck. It took the story in a new direction, it was full of great scares, and it was just a brilliant horror film. So, it should go without saying that I was excited for the next movie. After I finished watching it, I had to check the credits to make sure I had actually watched the right movie. That's never a good sign.

As our story begins, we witness the hours leading up to the wedding of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martín), a young Spanish couple that are madly in love with one another. We witness the last minute preparations for the wedding, the two of them talking with their families, and of course, friends and family arriving at the church where the wedding will be held. All of this is shown through a handicam, courtesy of one of the family members recording everything for posterity (and in keeping with the film's cinéma vérité gimmick). The big moment finally arrives, the two become husband and wife, and it's the best day of their lives. Sure, there's that little thing about Koldo's uncle acting a little odd and sporting a bandage on his hand to cover a dog bite, but that's nothing, right?

After the wedding is finished, everybody boards a couple of buses and heads over to a remote area to celebrate the wedding with a gigantic party, plenty of booze, and yes, lots of Spanish music and goofy dancing. This is where things start to turn tragic, as Koldo's uncle forgot to mention that the dog that bit him was infected with what I will call "The [REC] Virus" for lack of a better term. He turns into a demon-infested madman (a zombie for all intents and purposes) and begins attacking the other partygoers, and as is always the case, one bite leads to one more infected. Before you know it, the area is crawling with these damned things, the husband and wife find themselves separated from one another, and things are just going from bad to worse in a hurry. Oh, and the cameraman dies, so the film transitions from cinéma vérité to a "normal" movie, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective.

[REC] 3 is comparable to Evil Dead 2 in a lot of ways, and in fact, it even includes more than a couple of nods to that movie. For starters, this movie ditches the straight-up horror approach and decides to inject a little bit of comedy into the mix, which - in the [REC] universe - does not work. As an example, one of the characters spends the entire movie running around in a SpongeJohn outfit (SpongeBob is copyrighted, you see), while other examples could easily be made of the numerous one-liners. Some of them work, some of them fall flat, but they are there. This radical change in tone bothered me more than a little. I don't mind a horror / comedy hybrid, and in fact, I actually enjoy them from time to time. However, the [REC] series is not something that I want to see comedy in.

Another problem that I had with the movie was the numerous inconsistencies with both the previous films in the series and the previous scenes of the movie itself. Sometimes, the demons will be able to run at ninety miles an hour, while other times, they are shambling husks straight out of a Romero movie. Sometimes, destroying the brain is required to take one of them down, while others, a simple blow to the body will work just as well. There are numerous other examples that I could point to, but I think you get the idea. The previous films in the series, and any good horror movie besides, have established rules and boundaries; this one is content to change things as the scene calls for it.

Still another issue that I had with the film was the religious angle that it took. Now, those of you who have seen the previous movie will know that religion is a rather important aspect of the series, and I don't really have a problem with that. I am not a religious man myself, but it doesn't bother or offend me to see it used. The thing is, and this may be a slight spoiler, this movie uses religion as an ultimate weapon capable of defeating anything and overcoming everything. Are you surrounded by demons who are hell-bent on devouring your flesh? Simply say a prayer and they will leave you alone. Seriously, that's an actual scene. In fact, that is how the problem is solved, in a roundabout way, towards the end of the movie. Again, I don't mind religion being used as a plot device, but you can't have something so simple be so powerful in a horror movie and expect us to continue to care. How can we be invested in the already-announced next film when we know that, if the heroes ever get in trouble, they can just say a hail Mary and save themselves?

Now, most of my gripes throughout this review have centered around the film taking a radically different approach to the series and not sticking with what made the previous films work. As a proper [REC] sequel, I simply can not recommend it. You will not be finding more of what you loved in those movies, and you will undoubtedly walk away disappointed. However, with that said: if you just want another zombie movie (they're technically not zombies, but let's call a spade a spade here) and if you can deal with a few minor issues, the film isn't too bad as a standalone project. The chemistry between the two leads is great and you genuinely start to care for them, there are some great kills on display (loved the chainsaw), and some of the laughs are actually pretty good - the woman here brings new meaning to the term "Bridezilla." So, if you can pop this in and pretend that it's not a sequel, but instead, just some random zombie movie, you may get some enjoyment out of it.

Overall, I'm going to mix those two feelings together and give this an average rating. I can't help but feel a little disappointed, as I was expecting more horror goodness as seen in the previous films... or at least an attempt at that. I was hoping for the filmmakers to further establish this universe, shed some more light on the main subject, and just continue the story or show us another take on it. I didn't get any of that, so yes, that did drag my enjoyment down. However, I will concede that the film is fairly enjoyable as a standalone release, so I can't give it too low of a rating either. I think that a 6/10 is more than fair, and it's worth a rental for zombie fans, but fans of the series will undoubtedly walk away disappointed.
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