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This may not be what any serious fan of the so-far stellar
[REC] series wants to hear, but the departure that is [REC] 3 is possibly the
sweetest, most endearing film I’ve seen in quite some time; throat rips,
chainsaws, gut munches and vicious possessed included.
Pegged as a prequel (though that’s debatable, since it may
have been going on concurrently), [REC] 3: GENESIS is very admittedly a shock to
the system of anyone who’s acquainted with the previous films. The first two
entries are tightly knit siblings. They’re perfect companions that craft a
double feature to die for, but as the two directors split off to helm the subsequent
sequels solo, audiences will come face to face with what seems to be an awkward
cousin, or even the famous “red headed stepchild,” or perhaps even more
appropriately, the one who just married into the family. But GENESIS is blood
relative, and deserves to be loved.
The film opens as families gather to celebrate the union of
Carla (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin), and through a camcorder
clutching cousin, a professional wedding videographer and the security cameras
on the grounds, the aesthetic is in line with [REC] 1 & 2, but the tone has
radically begun to push away. Lighthearted and seeming to poke fun at the obvious
visual gap between real consumer cameras and what we’re asked to believe is
such in popular found footage cinema, cousin Adrian and the hired documentarian
host amusing exchanges (about cinema verite, no less, seemingly to set us up
not to take everything so seriously) while letting the audience get to know the
entire guest list, and it works amazingly. The entire first act is fun and
earnest, adeptly and quickly welcoming Clara, Koldo and those they’ve invited
to their special day right into our hearts— an aspect that keeps the film
anchored once the inevitable happens, and GENESIS goes off the wall.
Once the infection, a most uninvited guest, crashes the
reception, Plaza makes the (certain to be divisive) choice to cut off the POV
we’ve become accustomed to. In a moment that plays out in almost every single
film that utilizes the style, the question of “why are you still filming” is this
time finally answered with a foot to the camera, and instantly we’re off and
running in a more classical narrative visual language; albeit one that’s at
times beautiful, visceral and deadpan.
This deadpan, over-the-top and widely grinning attitude that
GENESIS wears will certainly throw viewers off. As Clara and Koldo are
separated and spend much of the running time in search of one another, ultra splattery
gags, literal knight’s armor (a possible reference to medieval nature of ARMY OF DARKNESS, as this
film certainly takes on that threequel’s more buoyant tone), and dialogue levities
(“I only invited you because I didn’t think you’d come”) are abound. And truth
be told, it’s all very crowd pleasing.
When Plaza and his co-writer Luis Berdejo (who penned the
first film alongside Plaza and Jaume Balaguero) misstep, it’s because the sudden
shift in atmosphere is often their only surprise. Sadly, having thrown POV out the
window, so flew the unpredictability and tautness of the previous films,
leaving the macabre, boisterous deaths and scares telegraphed, and just a
little less satisfying than they should have been.
Still, Dolera and Martin are so good as the heart of the
film. Wholly believable and worth investing in, their love and determination to
find each other, midst all the blood spew, makes [REC] 3 a treat. As a true
scare story, a la its predecessors, it’s ineffective. As a blackly comedic, astonishingly
romantic Grand Guignol, it excels.
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