Wednesday, 29 August 2012

[REC] 3 Genesis - DVD Review

Certificate 18

***

Directed by Paco Plaza
Written by Paco Plaza and Luis Berdejo




Leticia Dolera as Clara
With films 1 and 2 in the [REC] series, Paco Plaza together with Jaume Balagueró  directed a truly frightening horror series. The movies were carefully crafted, with all footage purporting to come from one or another hand-held recording device ( hence the REC – “record” in the title ) and as the crazed zombie storyline of 1 evolved into 2’s tale of demonic possession, the directorial pair used suspense combined with sparingly deployed gruesome special effects, to tell two chilling stories.
[REC]3 Genesis however is a classic example of cinematic life imitating its art. In 2011 the Fox corporation purchased the REC franchise, Balagueró left the directors’ chairs and #3 in the series represents the tragic death of the beautifully crafted horror of #1 and #2 only for it to be re-incarnated zombie-like, as a mutated form of the original, replete with a crass and shallow story and only redeemed by the film’s outrageous visual effects.
We meet Koldo and Clara on their wedding day with the wobbly footage from their family’s hand-held camcorders innocently signalling the horrific potential that a REC title promises. The opening scenes are authentically played out, with an obese uncle chillingly complaining of a bite that he has received from a dog that he had thought was dead.  For followers of the REC series, 3 is set in a parallel time frame as 2, and occasionally TV screens in the film acknowledge the horrific events from the previous film, that are unfolding in Barcelona.
Without spoiling the plot too much, no sooner are we into the wedding reception than Uncle Obesity dives headfirst from a balcony crashing onto the shocked guests below. It looks like he has broken his back, but of course the moment he is tended to by concerned relatives he sits up, spews infected blood and bites the throat out of an unsuspecting guest. And we’re off. The zombie virus rapidly spreads throughout the guests amidst outrageous carnage and shocking projectile bleeding and it is evident that what cash the producers saved on intelligent plot development was at least poured into the effects budget.
The film then evolves into a traditional thriller as Clara and Koldo try to flee the hoards of their un-dead relatives ( on reflection those last few words sound like many a typical non-zombie family wedding) and escape the palacial grounds where the party was being hosted. In the DVD’s extras, Plaza talks enthusiastically of the design work involved in planning the damage that Clara’s wedding dress sustains as the story unfolds, suggesting that the dress itself had its own arc, or plotline, throughout the movie. Any director that needs to suggest that a costume has its own character, is clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel as regards storyline. 
Perhaps with an eye to propping up the tottering Spanish economy, the producers have unashamedly tried to milk the REC brand in a way that echoes the exploitation of the Jaws or Friday the 13th titles. The handheld concept from 1 and 2 soon makes way for traditional crane and dolly mounted swooping / tracking shots as the wedding camcorders are discarded and it were not for the gruesome visuals, there would be very little to make this film worth watching. It is the well filmed and set-up scenes of decapitation, disembowelment and assorted throat rippings, combined with a stunning scene involving a chainsaw wielding bride and the most bloodily passionate wedding kiss ever in the film’s closing moments that make  the film an entertaining B-movie gore fest.
If a criteria for a good zombie scenario is that it should be like a fine steak: possibly just still alive and dripping with blood, then this movie is certainly served rare. Set your expectations low, enjoy the few jokes that are within the tale, try not to eat while you watch and you just might really enjoy the ride!



Available on DVD and Blu Ray from September 3rd 2012

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