Because I watch way too many ‘Found Footage” films, every time I’ve logged into Netflix for the past few months, it has suggested that I watch the film [REC]3 Génesis. Being a horror fan, I am familiar with the franchise. I’ve seen the original (and awesome) Spanish [REC] and both the remake (Quarantine “ Another great film) and its sequel Quarantine 2: The Terminal “ Eh, fun enough). So, while looking for something quick and easy to watch Saturday night I decided to give [REC}3 a go.
SPOILERS ABOUND. But don’t let that stop you… you’re not going to watch this movie for the plot.
In an otherwise standard opening 15 minutes, we meet the characters holding the shaky cams. There’s the beautiful bride Clara (Leticia Delora) and her family. There’s the handsome groom Koldo (Diego Martin) and his crew of drinking buddies. The guests arrive. We have some sweet, but corny wedding stuff.
But the drunk uncle changes everything. The DJ is blasting the music. The guests are dancing, bumping, and grinding, because that’s what you do at weddings. Drunk uncle decides to take a header off the second floor railing and crashes through a table. But he’s not dead. He’s undead! He takes a nasty (and I mean nasty, I even winced) bite out of ol’ auntie, and we’re off to the races!
Anybody who has seen a zombie flick knows how the next few minutes play out. People panic. They’re bitten. The undead plague spreads. And a small group of people hole up in a flimsy shelter (in this case, the kitchen).
The survivors scream at each other. Koldo is among the survivors, and when he sees his cousin still filming, he decides that’s nonsense. He grabs the camera, smashes it to the floor, and gives it a couple of kicks for good measure.
A good 20 minutes into the film, the screen turns black and we get the opening credits. Director Paco Plaza has been toying with the viewer. Instead of a standard found footage zombie flick, Plaza has decided to go full auteur on us… and it works quite well. The switch from Night of the Living Dead serious to Shaun of the Dead splatter-comedy will upset fans of the [REC] mythology, but sometimes you just have to roll with it. We’re treated to a mix of comedy and heartbreak…an odd combination I’m still working out in my head.
When the credits finish, we’re back with our crowd of survivors and the movie is being presented in standard film widescreen format. This is because Paco Plaza has a visual treat planned for us. For the veteran horror film fan, the next 60 minutes are loaded with callbacks and homages. That, in itself, isn’t impressive, but the artistic flair and staging Plaza uses to pull this off is impressive.
First and foremost, it all starts with Leticia Dolera. She might be the most bad ass and beautiful vengeful bride I’ve seen in a film. At one point, she finds a chainsaw, and decides to take back her wedding day from the zombies. Here we have a touch of Quentin Tarantino and Kill Bill.
Paco Plaza shows an eye for vivid set pieces that reminded me of the better parts of Argento’s Suspiria. Two scenes in particular standout. The ballroom scene post-massacre as Koldo and Clara are making their escape (unfortunately, I can’t find any shots of it). The other is the face off Clara has with her undead mother. There’s a downpour. The scene is lit by a fallen blue and red neon sign. It’s a powerful moment and beautifully filmed. (Click for animated gif)
Here the lovely Clara goes full chainsaw in a scene reminiscent of early Peter Jackson and extreme zombie gore. Complete with Spanish pop music! (Extremely gory!)
Along the way, Clara gets bitten, setting up a hell of an ending. In this scene, the bride and groom realizes the end is near. Lots of symbolism, of course. The bars separating the couple. The brightly lit tunnel echoing her impending death (to Clara’s right). It’s all a bit Return of the Living Dead 3. But way sadder. (Click for animated gif)
Forgotten plot threads and characters abound. The dialog, even for a silly film, is a bit hard to swallow. Most characters suffer from Stupid Movie Character syndrome. And the movie is all over the place, making it unfocused and a bit of a mess. But the film is only 75 minutes, and it contains some memorable movie magic. If you can stomach style over substance, give [REC]3 a try.