Film Review: ‘[Rec] 3: Genesis’

Whilst his former directorial partner Jaume Balagueró was off making FrightFest sleeper hit Sleep Tight (2012), Paco Plaza appears to have squandered his time with the subsequent time with [Rec] 3: Genesis (2012), the third entry in the Spanish zombie horror trilogy. Whilst Plaza thankfully ditches the done-to-death found footage formula in favour of a more traditional approach early on, the [Rec] 3’s jarring descent into slapstick comedy is likely to be far less popular with staunch fans of the series.

The first [Rec] film to take place outside of the infested Barcelona apartment block of entries one and two, Plaza’s solo endeavour begins with a mawkish wedding photo montage before settling into familiar shaky-cam territory for the ceremony itself. We meet blushing bride Clara (Leticia Dolera), gallant groom Koldo (Diego Martin), and a host of bit-part players that predictably become zombie-fodder as soon as one of the party succumbs to the deadly virus. Switching to a traditional horror format, the rest of the film sees the newly-weds desperately fighting for their lives amidst the blood and gore.

Aesthetic shifts aside, there’s strikingly little new or fresh about the decaying corpse that is [Rec] 3. If it wasn’t for the rumours of Balagueró helming a fourth outing, it would be all too tempting to call time on this tragically cadaverous cycle. With the arguable exception of Dolera’s strong-willed and feisty Clara (a marked improvement on the original [Rec]’s sobbing starlet Manuela Velasco), Plaza’s individual contribution feels all too much like a backward step to the dark age of yawn-some generic convention.

Severed heads roll, limbs are hacked and chainsaws practically ingested throughout the film’s mercifully short runtime, with Koldo even going as far as to transform himself into the classical ‘knight in shining armour’, in order to save his fair(ish) maiden. Most off-putting, however, is [Rec] 3’s supporting cast of ‘zany’ outsiders, including a sleazy best man, an undead-thwarting priest and (worst of all) a lonely entertainer dressed as an anthropomorphic sponge (referred to as ‘John Sponge’ due to copyright). Each rolled-out character template is as tired and hackneyed as the last, giving us little or no reason to worry over their respective fates.

With [Rec] 3, Plaza may well have succeeded in burying the very horror cycle he helped bring to life – a genuine shame given the enjoyable impact of the Spanish saga’s opener. Whether Balagueró can resurrect this flailing franchise is yet to be seen. Regardless, this is one certainly one bargain-bin-botherer that you should avoid given the old ‘I do’.

Daniel Green