This Schlocktober, Comics Bulletin will be exploring the world of horror cinema, featuring thirty one notable films released between Halloween 2012 and Halloween 2013. Next up is director/co-writer Paco Plaza's [REC] 3: Genesis.
The third entry in the extremely popular Spanish zombie film series is directed by Paco Plaza without his [REC] 1 and 2 collaborator Jaume Balagueró and takes a different — some would say unsuccessful — tack than the previous installments. Not only is the found-footage conceit abandoned as the film goes on, Plaza's script (written with co-writers Luiso Berdejo and David Gallart) includes more humor than both of the previous films (and their American remakes) combined.
Dismissing this film for straying from the tone and style of the first two films is both short-sighted and absurd. The found-footage approach is a gimmick that makes the events in the previous films more realistic and immediate, but what makes those films work is the intensity of both the trapped scenario and the reactions of the performers. If you're going to expand the [REC] universe and tell stories outside of that apartment building, you've got to open it up with other storytelling approaches.
Plaza does just that, following an outbreak at a huge wedding, where one of the guests is nursing a dog bite, which provides our link to the previous films. The found-footage approach is maintained throughout the wedding, until the uncle with the dog bite stands up and vomits blood, launching the chaos. The movie switches to a traditional third-person approach after the groom, Koldo (Diego Martín) asks why they're still filming and smashes the camera.
It's a clever way of addressing the issue in-narrative that works really well for me.
I also found it refreshing that in a zombie film landscape that thrives on an atheistic nihilism, [REC] 3: Genesis expands on the idea of the previous films that the zombies are a demonic infestation. It's a nice change-up that opens narrative opportunities and changes some of the thematic elements that are done to death (no pun intended) in your usual zombie film.
Also, Leticia Dolera, as the bride Clara, is perfection.
Watching her take control of her destiny and become a kick-ass action heroine is a large part of what makes this movie work so well. And while the ending is a little darker than I was expecting, given everything that came before, it's not bad at all and is tied directly to the demonic aspect of the zombies.
All in all, this was a fun continuation and expansion of the [REC] world that didn't disappoint me in the least. If it's not what you want from your [REC] films, don't worry. [REC] 4: Apocalypse is on the way and will be returning to the apartment building with Manuela Velasco reprising her role as the reporter Ángela Vidal.
Guess what? That sounds good, too. It's not a zero sum game.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.