Wednesday, August 8, 2012

[REC] 3: GENESIS - MIFF 2012

Expectations are key when you go into watching “[REC] 3: Genesis”.  The two previous entries are well known for being very intense and serious examples of the zombie subgenre.  They are also, in my eyes, the finest examples of P.O.V horror films that seem to be so popular these days, which is initially what was the “[REC]” films claim to fame.  However you need to know going in to that with the exception of the first twenty minutes of this film, the video P.O.V style is abandoned and the movie then plays out like a regular film.  Also while I would hesitate to call “[REC] 3” a comedy, it is certainly much lighter in tone than the previous two films.  I mention all of this because I believe knowing the above will actually increase your chances of liking this film.

While “[REC] 3” is often described as a prequel, the events of the film actually happen concurrently with those of the first film.  The setting of this film is at a wedding reception for Koldo and Clara.  It was a beautiful ceremony and everything is going perfectly to plan until Koldo’s uncle, who earlier in the day was bitten by a dog at the vets, starts to act in a very strange manner.  Eventually he falls from an upper balcony, crashing into the tables below.  When the first person on the scene reaches him to check on his wellbeing, he rips her throat out with his teeth, which starts the terrifying zombie plague.  During all the panic and fear, Koldo and Clara end up getting separated, but feeling that the other is still alive, both refuse to leave to safety and instead head back into the dangers lurking within the reception hall searching for their life partner.  “ ‘ Til Death Do Us Part” indeed!

The opening twenty minutes of the film, during the happy times before the zombie outbreak, are shot in the handheld P.O.V style that the “[REC]” films are famous for, and just like those previous films, “[REC] 3” does a great job of making these scenes feel incredibly real and natural as if we were watching real footage from a wedding.  In fact the film cleverly starts as if we are watching a dvd of Kolda and Clara’s wedding video.  The light pink subtitles that were displayed during the film were a very nice touch (that I hope is retained for its home-video release).  Once the carnage and bloodletting commences the film reverts to a more traditional style of filmmaking with fully designed and composed shots.  Gone is the immediate reality but still the results are no less impressive with some really great cinematography from Pablo Rosso (who lensed the other entries in the “[REC]” series).

The first two “[REC]” films were co-directed by Juame Balaguero and Paco Plaza but when the decision was made to make a third and fourth film in the series, they decided to separate and direct one film each.  Paco Plaza is the director of this entry and compared to Balaguero he has always had a much lighter touch in tone with his horror films in the past, so it should come as no surprise that this film has comedic elements to it.  Personally I thought I was going to hate these moments (I like my horror dark and nasty) but to my surprise I thought for the most part they were handled really well and never went too far over the top.

The gore moments come thick and fast and, again, are done in more of a “fun” way with entertaining and inventive deaths, which is unlike the “[REC]” films previous, but at least these horror moments were done in a scary and intense tone.  If I had one complaint about the attack sequences it was repetition, as they appeared to be mostly of the same variety.  They went to the well with the “zombie comes from out of frame and ‘BOO!’” kind of scare, a little too often in my opinion.

The lead actors who play Koldo and Clara, Diego Martin and Leticia Dolera respectively, are both fantastic and so believable as a couple but it really is Dolera’s film, she is not a bride that you want to mess with.  There is a reason why the majority of the marketing for “[REC] 3” revolves around Dolera’s bloodied bride character.  She is beyond awesome and the images of her brandishing a chainsaw and laying waste to hordes of zombies whilst still in her wedding dress are sure to become iconic.

Overall I had a really great time with “[REC] 3: Genesis”, much more than I was expecting.  While I would still rank it as the least of the three “[REC]” films, it is still an impressive addition to an already excellent horror series.  I now eagerly anticipate next year’s “[REC] 4: Apocalypse”.

3.5 Stars.

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