I try not to ply myself with information prior to screenings so I can form my own, unbiased opinion of the film I am about to see. Well, unbiased may be a bit of an exaggeration as I was really, crazy excited to see this film as soon as I found out it would be at SXSW. I am a huge fan of the first two [REC] films, the first one scared the pants off me, unlike the U.S. attempt, Quarantine which fell so short of the original work. Not knowing anything going in to [REC] 3: Genesis really paid off for me. I didn’t have any idea what to expect, I thought I knew what I was waking into, but I was totally unprepared for what I saw unfold onscreen. Director, Paco Plaza and Writer, Luiso Berdejo (returning after writing on the original [REC]) did a phenomenal job moving the films forward and keeping the old format from becoming stagnant.
The movie begins as a wedding video, one that you would get from a photographer/videographer that you pay to record your memories. It is very unassuming with a video showing the two main characters as children, growing up and then finding one another as you see at most weddings whether it be at the rehearsal or reception. It is very sweet and tells of two people very much in love and establishes an emotional connection with the characters early on. We are miles from the original venue, it’s daylight and a lot of the film occurs outdoors which is a drastic change to the almost claustrophobic nature of the first two films in the apartment building.
[REC] 3: Genesis then goes in to the typical nature of the brand with not one but three different cameras being used by characters it he film to shoot footage of a wedding. We switch from one camera to another for about the first twenty minutes of the film totally unsuspecting of the change to come. An image that is caught over and over is of the groom’s uncle, who is very jovial and seems throughout the night to become increasingly intoxicated (to those unsuspecting souls in the rest of the cast. Since we know that he has been bitten by a dog that he perceived to be dead, we know the pretense of drunkenness is not the direction we are actually heading in, rather uncle looks to be undergoing the change that occurs in every Rec film). Eventually, said uncle succumbs to his fate and becomes one of the flesh eaters that we know and love so well.
When the change occurs, it is obvious that dear uncle has been busy as there are already several undead friends to help expedite the process of taking the rest of the wedding down. Everyone is in one place for the reception and are easy pickins for the infected. The groom, Koldo, portrayed by Diego Martin, his nephew and the wedding photographer (a mix of Kevin Smith and Guilermo Del Toro) escape with one of the young girls who was at the wedding. They hole up in the kitchen and try to formulate a plan of escape. Immediately after barricading themselves in the kitchen, Koldo trashes the wedding photographer’s camera and we are no longer in familiar territory, but are back to watching the movie as a third party observer, gone is the first person shaky cam for the remainder of the movie. I feel the filmakers did this with careful forethought and do somewhat ease us into it, but in no uncertain terms let us know, forget how you thought this was gonna go, we’re changing the rules.
Koldo’s thoughts are with his bride who he was separated from in the attack, he believes that he knows she is okay, but no one else is all that sure. They have to orchestrate an escape plan as they are essentially sitting ducks in their current situation. After a failed attempt at removing a grate in the floor, they all squeeze in to an air shaft. All that is, except the wedding photographer whom, possibly due to the familiarity I mentioned earlier, I was already pretty attached too. I was sad to see him go, he looked to be the nerdy character that would be able to guide everyone through to safety, but no. They escapees find themselves wandering outside in zombie infested territory until they stumble upon the chapel, which the zombies apparently cannot enter.
In the meantime we find that our bride, Clara, played by Leticia Dolera, has gotten away as well and is with the padre who officiated the wedding. They have found refuge in the tower with all of the PA equipment. Clara uses the opportunity to share with Koldo that she is still alive, though she doesn’t know his fate, and in a cheesy moment later in the film insists as he does that she can feel that he is still alive. The movie is full of cheesy love story moments that are in stark contrast to the character’s surroundings, but it works so well. I’ve always wondered if the Z-apocolypse ever came to pass, what I would do to find the people I love. Would I be able to search them out if we weren’t together when the shit hit the fan or would even be able to? How do you handle that and how does everyone seem to move past it so quickly in zombie movies?
We move forward in the movie watching Koldo and Clara overcome obstacle after obstacle to find one another, always confidant that the other will be there when they get to the end of their nightmare. We are treated to a little campiness and creativity in the dispatching of several zombies by Clara, still in her wedding dress and Koldo in the form of a chainsaw and a hand mixer. Very enjoyable gore and many more comedic moments. The demonic aspect is reintroduced in this film and is used to assist in the grand escape attempt in an extraordinary way. The departures from the original straight fear and darkness did not bother me. I feel it was part necessary evolution and part situational as the setting was entirely different as well. Leticia Dolores gives a stunning performance and she is so captivating on screen, she truly steals the show. I think my favorite part about the movies that I’ve enjoyed most at this year’s SXSW is that they weren’t what I was expecting, which makes the experience that much better.
I have to leave you with these questions….Do you feel the lovebirds should find one another? Do you think they should make it out together? I can’t give all of that away here, but trust me when I say watching to discover the answers to these questions is well worth it.
[REC] 3: Genesis will be released to Video on Demand in August 2012 and will be release in the U.S. September 7, 2012. It will be released in Spain March 30, 2012.
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