FrightFest Patrick Gamble

FrightFest 2012: ‘Rec 3: Genesis’ review

★★★☆☆

One of the most anticipated films the play at this year’s 13th Film4 FrightFest, [Rec] 3: Genesis (2012) is the third instalment of Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza’s (on solo directorial duty here) much-admired Spanish zombie franchise. However, traditionalist Rec fans may well be in for a surprise with Plaza’s lone vision, which offers up a decidedly different kind of undead-bashing beast.

Opening with an intriguing, interactive wedding DVD menu prior to revealing the same found footage camera work we’ve become accustomed to, it feels as if [Rec] 3 has merely transferred its cinematic template from the Barcelona tenement of the first two films to a new environment. After being subjected to countless ‘light-hearted’ interviews with the guests of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo’s (Diego Martin) lavish ceremony, it seems apparent that what’s about to transpire is nothing more than a lacklustre reconstruct of a time-worn concept.

However, just as the audience resigns themselves to an underwhelming return to familiar territory, Plaza dramatically tears up the template, pulling us out of the first person perspective and choosing to document the horrifying flesh-eating massacre in a far more conventional fashion. There’s little denying that Plaza’s decision to mutate his own franchise’s distinctive POV methodology comes as a shock, forcing viewer allegiances to be split between an unimaginative, yet familiar transference of cherished ideas and an unfathomable decision to inject humour into a previously dark, ominous saga.

This dramatic tonal shift requires time for audience adjustment. Unfortunately by the time the viewer has bought into this profound change in direction, they’ve almost certainly already missed many of [Rec] 3’s wittiest moments. Clara’s new husband literally arrives to save her as a mace-wielding knight in shining armour, whilst the film’s glamorous bride compliments her pristine wedding dress with a chainsaw before taking on a horde of infected relatives and in-laws. Thankfully, Plaza still knows how to deliver the franchise’s obligatory gory thrills and spills.

Destined to divide FrightFest audience opinion, many will no doubt find [Rec] 3’s newly-found slapstick approach a welcome breath of fresh air in what has become a stale, over-saturated sub-genre. However, fans of the original [Rec] can also be absolved of their disappointment, with the franchise’s heralded use of demonic possession and heart-stopping tension unfortunately diluted in favour of erroneous jokes and saccharine sentiment.

From 23-27 August, CineVue will be reporting back from this year’s Film4 FrightFest with a bucket-load of gruesome reviews. For more of our festival coverage, simply follow this link.

Patrick Gamble