Thursday, August 23, 2012

[REC]³: Leave the Cameraman, Take the Cannolis (Your First "Choose Your Own Adventure" Review)

For those of you who do not understand full well what passion I have for the [REC] series of movies feel free to check out last year’s Halloween write up during the 31 day blog-a-thon. I assure you you’ll understand how I love thee and the ways are counted in endless praise for this truly scary series. Not many movies “get me”. Typically I find that movies with religious zealots and demons seem to hit home more than monster fodder. More than zombies, vamps, aliens… more than slasher flicks. If you want to scare the doctor well it’s pretty simple. Throw movies about nut jobs who think god wants to kill “group x” individuals at me and or attach the minions from Hell that work for our sweet Satan. Find me movies like The Mist where a religious zealot controls a small group of people and then convinces them to harm other “non believers”. Hell, even movies about cults or cult groups get me. Race with the Devil. Dark Secret of Harvest Home. The Wicker Man. They’re all pretty creepy although some of production values that leave something to be desired. Of course if that isn’t enough you can bring on the demons from Hell. The Gate is a perfect example. The Beyond and City of the Living Dead from the Fulci contingent. How about Demons or Demons 2?  So when [REC] and [REC]2 started steering just that way, toward the demonic and the possessed… my ass got freaky scared and started having visions of Linda Blair doing a spider crawl down the back stairs of the Amityville house. [REC]3: Genesis is the continuation of that story made flesh… or at least taken from the womb of found footage and birthed into the world of narrative, third person perspective cinema.

Synopsis from Magnet:

Koldo and Clara are about to celebrate the most important day of their lives: their wedding.

Everything appears to be running smoothly and the bride and groom and their families are enjoying a wonderful day; that is until some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Before they know what’s happening, the bride and groom find themselves in the middle of a hellish ordeal, as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on the wedding.

Amidst the chaos, Koldo and Clara become separated and begin a desperate search for one another. What started off as an idyllic day quickly descends into a nightmare of the worst kind...

Now I hope you don’t think I ruined any twist in [REC]3. The change over from found footage to non-found footage happens early on in the movie, is done with style grace is and , in my opinion, exactly what this series needed. Both of the previous endeavors handled the found footage style perfectly. The production value was kept appropriate and, unlike many of its found footage brethren, the dialogue and acting were kept very believable rather than the “ultra reality” acting found in movies like Paranormal Activity or even Quarantine and its sequel (you know my disdain for Q1, but Q2 is a work of art in its own right).  So in short, this one splits up the duty the narrative cinema your used to that can be entertaining and terrifying without the use of cheap tricks while combined with some of the suspense grabbing aspects of the found footage style. I’d hate to see the [REC] series go stale. The moderate reinvention was appropriately timed.

I’m not here to divulge plot details so you won’t get an indepth discussion of where the evil beasties are coming from if that’s even discussed. I’ll say that you’ll get a respectable origin story for the mess you find in the first two outings. The presence of fast running, ferocious “zombie like” creatures continues through this film so don’t expect a giant fire demon to start blow smoke and fire up your ass. The makeup is effective and except for a slightly brighter look than the two previous films which may reveal too much of the undead, the whole special effects team does a brilliant job. We all know what special effects can look like once the lights are on.  This will tie some of the religious subplot to the 28 Days Later style zeds that you’ve become quite familiar with. This isn’t a Dawn of the Dead prequel and do not expect this to tie in with your favorite Danny Boyle film. The REC series seems to embrace a very European philosophy of zombies/undead/demons. I see hints of Tomb of the Blind Dead, City of the Living Dead… religious apocalypse less the radiation, chemical or biological reasons for reincarnation of the dead.

This film’s marketing is quickly becoming the thing of legend. It’s as simple as the shark and the swimming girl in the Jaws poster. Put a hottie bride on a near blank canvas with a chainsaw in her hands. Splatter with blood. This is instant social media iconography. It’s not like we have any attachment to the character of the bride herself although I’ll bet after you see this movie you won’t consider her the next Ash or Leatherface. The image sells the movie quite well even if it has very little to do with the movie as a whole. The Bride played by Leticia Dolera is gorgeous and Dolera’s performance alongside costar Javier Botet should be the talk of the romantic horror fans for ages to come. True love knows no bounds… you’ll see what that means when you watch the film kiddies. Even if you don’t believe in true love you’ll believe in that garter belt before the whole thing is over.

Genesis isn’t exactly Shaun of the Dead, a love story with zombies, but it’s definitely an emotive piece of cinema that relies as much on your heart as it does on your love of the gross out. What’s so wonderful about [REC]3 is its ability to balance that romance with a special effects driven shock fest. How do you tell the story of young lovers on their wedding day and unfortunate disaster that befalls them? Offer some light humor that is obstructive to the darker elements in the film. When you rewatch [REC] and [REC]2, can you imagine that anything in the series could ever even take place outside of that cursed building? [REC]3 succeeds in turning your attention to a new group of unfamiliar actors to make sense of the what you see in that building and it does so by pulling the heart strings of the romantic in all of us.

I can understand how some reviewers are not enjoying the turn to removing the found footage style. I get that with a completely different setting, set of actors and premise that you’re asking a lot from horror fans. You’re asking them to connect the dots between two things that, in theory, feel unrelated. Horror fans are smart, but it’s sort of like taking off in Newark airport in New Jersey and waking up in Hawaii. You’ll feel disoriented. It’ll take some time and maybe even a second viewing to clear the cobwebs and get your brain in line with Paco Plaza’s vision. He did direct all of the films after all. The store is so disjointed that we can’t learn to appreciate the slight disconnect if we want to.

Overall this is a bloody good time of a film with action sequences that might be described as Dead Alive/Evil Dead lite. Very lite. Like 99% fat free, but there’s a chaos that is infectious. There are actors that you can believe in who put up competent performances and a director who obviously cares about the story he’s telling and the stage he wants to set for the fourth installment [REC]4: Apocalypse. When the whole shit show was over and I was left to collect my thoughts, I realized that this wasn’t my favorite entry in the series, but that perhaps it was most important because it provided vital information for the conclusion. You know those episodes of your favorite TV show where NOTHING happens. You have to tell all your friends around the water cooler that it wasn’t your favorite episode.  Well I think once we see the fourth part we’ll enjoy this installment just a little bit more. There’s less mystery the in its predecessors. You know too much about everything while watching [REC]3, and yet, you never really know where it’s going to end up. You’ve seen the monster, but have you seen the Apocalypse? Stay Tuned and see what happens next. Magnet Releasing is hitting them out of the park lately.

[REC]3 is available on VOD now. Go support it.

You can also find it here:



  1. Hello, I'm writting from Barcelona, where the REC series was born. Some of the jokes in the movie are very catalan, like the use of the armor of Sant Jordi, something that we are very familiar but I guess is not that known outside Catalunya. I'm curious about how this was seen outside our country. Did it worked or there are things lost in translation?

  2. Great review!! My girlfriend and I watched REC3 with our friend last weekend, and all three of us absolutely LOVED it. When I went online afterwards to see some reviews/comments on the film, I was shocked to see how hated it was in certain circles. This was my favorite film in the series, hands down. Don't get me wrong, the first two films were brilliant, and I absolutely adore them, but I just found the change of pace/setting/tone in part 3 so refreshing. The humor, the horror, the love story - it was all done so perfectly. So nice to see a review from someone who seems to have "gotten it" the way my friends and I did. Such a great film - and I think even the haters will come around eventually.

  3. Raul, the Saint Jordi armor scene is indeed very humorous in my country. I don't think we fully grasp its significane. I could help but think of the religious crusades which fit in appropriately with the demonic forces underlying the army of the undead. There were moments where I felt the same exhiliration of Army of Darkness without the obvious tongue in cheek humor.

    White Goodman, I've also heard friends bash this movie. They couldn't handle the crossover in style from found footage to narrative, third person camera work. I think it's important to where the film will be head in the fourth installment. I do hope they return to found footage in that movie. It'd be a nice twist.

    A few watches and a garter belt should do the trick :)