Tuesday, August 7, 2012

'[REC] 3: Genesis' Review

In "[REC] 3: Genesis," Koldo and Clara are getting married. The celebration of their big day is ruined when the demonic zombie plague begins to spread like wildfire and infects all of their guests and turns them into the ravenous undead.

Now, I am a huge fan of  the [REC] series. I loved the pacing of "[REC]" and "[REC] 2" and the way that the first person point of view of the found footage films created a sense of immediate urgency and danger that it just breathtakingly terrifying. The zombies of [REC] are fast and strong, and the evil that controls them is unstoppable.

The beginning of both films created an atmosphere that provided a great deal of terror and suspense. Heck, even with all of the action and high octane chase scenes, the two movies managed to be subtle about how the zombies were created, and the forces behind the outbreak.

Unfortunately, the third movie of the franchise utterly fails to deliver in just about everything that it attempts to do. "[REC] 3: Genesis" is an utter disappointment for [REC] fans everywhere.

The absence of Jaume Balagueró working on the film as a co-director with Paco Plaza ( as he did in the first two movies) really shows. The overall tone, directorial style and plotline of "[REC] 3: Genesis" is so far removed from the first two installations that I don't even consider it to be a part of the same franchise.

Instead of being subtle and creating suspenseful scenes of dread by slowly building the tension, Plaza panders to the American gore hound audience and uses cheesy gallows humor and over-the-top ultra-violent zombie kills to create a tongue-in cheek, goofy, splatterpunk monstrosity.

For instance:
The weapons of [REC] consist of a fire axe (because the firemen carry one) and police issue pistols to fight off the zombies. These are realistic weapons.

Here's the weapons used in [REC] 3.
Any movie that uses a chainsaw as a weapon is splatterpunk.

Yep. A stick blender (aka food blitzer) and a chainsaw. That's the best that they could do.

"[REC] 3" is so bad, it couldn't even get the zombies right. 

Gone are the horrified hell-cat like growls and natural sounding screams of the zombies; they were replaced with stock monster sounds that have been around for over 50 years. Gone are the blood filled eyes and the incredibly fast, unstoppable killing machines; they were replaced with shuffling, dumb witted zombies with milky white eyes that pause conveniently for their victim while she fumbles to start a chainsaw and use it for a weapon. Gone is the mystery, the suspense, the over all terror that the first two movies provided, that was replaced with zombies that are utterly are ridiculous and not a serious threat in the slightest. 

Ridiculous and unnecessary changes to the zombies in "[REC] 3" include:
  • Once bitten, black veins grow out from the wound and spread across the body as the flesh around the bite turns black. 
  • The transformation from dead to demonic zombie is instantaneous a la "28 Days Later." The wounded don't suffer or become deathly ill with fever before turning into a zombie. 
  • The reflections of the undead are now that of the thin, long limbed half-naked girl from the attic that started the spread of the infection. Yeah. Real subtle there guys.

In the video below, Koldo (Clara's husband) encounters the corpse of Atun, the man he hired to make a professional video of his wedding. (Atun was set up to be one of the main characters whose first person perspective would be used to tell the story of the movie, but this is abandoned the minute Koldo barricades the kitchen staff door and Atun's camera is broken.) Koldo then comes face-to-face with his uncle Victor, who was bitten by a dog and became infected with the demonic zombie plague. Victor is the one who spreads the disease/demon possession to the wedding guests. Unlike the old woman in "[REC]," he isn't fast, doesn't scream like a vicious hell-cat and has a ridiculous smile on his face, like he's a shuffling drunken idiot who fell on his face and his teeth lips bad enough to cause blood to ooze out of his mouth.

Apparently things have changed, because now you can just hide from the demonic zombies in a church, toss holy water on them (this was mentioned by a character but is never used in the movie), or just recite the Bible to get them to leave you alone.

And the virtually unstoppable evil demon that controlled the zombies in the first two movies? Well, now the corpses it possesses and reanimates as voracious zombies are hindered by a mere humble priest reciting the book of Genesis from the bible. (Which, in retrospect, is probably why the full title is "[REC] 3: Genesis." It didn't get it's title due to the fact the world of the demons is beginning,  it had "Genesis" tacked onto the title because that particular book of the Bible is used moronically as a weak plot device.)

Seriously. Uttering the phrase "In the beginning God created heaven and earth," is enough to get the zombies to stop and stand dumbly while jerking spasmodically-- a convenient director's fiat to allow characters to get out of deadly situations that they shouldn't have survived.

Forget about the Catholic Rite of Exorcism prayer; I'm sure that any old Bible passage will do just fine. Just flip the Good Book open to a random page and start reading.

Talk about idiotic. Even worse, the priest is a one-shot side character who provides an info dump that tells the audience the main reason behind the zombie outbreak. I guess the director decided that we're all too dumb to figure out that little mystery on our own.

Aside from useless characters like the priest, the music royalties agent, and "Sponge John" (not Sponge Bob. Yeah, that copyright joke gets old real quick.) the most aggravating thing about "[REC] 3" is the switch from first person found footage to third person cinematic view after the first half hour of the movie; it is jarring and utterly destroys the tension and terror that was created when zombie outbreak began at the wedding.

This change of perspective also eliminates the two main characters who were recording the wedding with video cameras (Atun and Koldo's cousin Adrian). It  not only switches the point of view of the camera footage in the middle of a scene, but the character point of view as well, which is a big no-no in any form of story telling. (It's not to be done because it's confusing.) The end result of the shift in camera perspective is a loss of the sense of immediate danger and ultimately, the loss of the movie's two main characters as the cameramen wind up dying off-screen.

Atun and Adrian were the two most interesting and well rounded characters of the movie. The professional cameraman and the amateur hand-held camera kid bonded early on and were working together to record the wedding. And then, these two charismatic individuals have their camera's taken away from them, and go from main characters to side notes that don't even get their own death scenes. How sad is that?

Overall, most of the characters of "[REC] 3" aren't very interesting. We go from quick witted fire men, police men and a news reporter to a bride and groom who have the reaction time of a Slowpoke.

Yep. They just stand around even though they are in mortal danger, staring blankly at the zombies. After a while I found this particular pacing issue to be exasperatingly stupid, especially when it came to Clara's actions.

Huh? Zombies are chasing us? I think I'll just stand here for about two minutes in the pouring rain to catch my breath before moving on.

The zombies climbing up the ladder after me and are swarming the tunnels below the building? Nope, I'm not going to run, especially not once I get up through the drain hole in the kitchen floor and find my husband. I think we'll just stand here and embrace and kiss each other for a while before moving on. Because clearly, only that one zombie could climb up the ladder and try to grab my leg, the others are too slow and weak to manage to follow me up. (At this point I began yelling at the TV screen telling the idiots to move before they get killed. I mean, come on! Why the hell they were just standing there like morons playing kissy face during a zombie outbreak? That's just stupid!)

Heck,  even the police that cordon off the wedding area just stood there like deer in headlights when they see a zombie. In the first two movies, the moment anyone got near a window, they were shot at, and in some instances, killed. Here, you can not only walk up to the plastic quarantine wall, you can exit it and walk out the tunnel. You can even stand on the other side of the cordon, in front of the police in their tactical gear and hold an infected zombie for a while before they decide to shoot you. Arg!

There are so many things wrong with this movie that I could go on, but when you get right down to it, it's the pacing, point of view shift and the treatment of the zombies that ruined what could have been an interesting addition to the [REC] series.

Overall, "[REC] 3" is a trite, cliched filled train wreck of a horror movie that couldn't manage to capture the same tone of the first two movies even if it tried. It's the "special" younger brother of "Evil Dead 2" who likes to lick windows and can't go anywhere without wearing a helmet because he keeps slamming his head into the wall. Watching it was worse than watching "Quarantine." In fact, "Quarantine" is down right entertaining when compared to "[REC] 3," which is sad because the characters in the American version of "[REC]" are unsympathetic morons.

"[REC] 3: Genesis" isn't worth renting or seeing in the theater, so save your $10 and don't bother watching it. The only thing scary about this horror movie is that it's terrible.


  1. Man, I read all you said and I agree with all of it. This movie was so hard to watch till it's ending that it hurt. How could they have done it to such an amazing series? My expectations were so high that I didn't even consider "what if the movie is bad?". Well, great article and let's hope that REC 4 starts with "We're sorry for REC 3, here's the real deal".

  2. As a big fan of REC series, seeing it for rent in the Red Box had me and my fiance overjoyed! Sure it had cheesy box art, but we had been waiting for 3 for a while now.

    Good god this was one of the worst horror movies we had seen in a while. It was even a bad popcorn zombie movie. It got to a point that we were practically yelling at the TV for the main characters to die. We really wanted Sponge John to live though...

    REC 4 is already set to completely ditch the found footage, a major aspect that made the first to movies popular due to the claustrophobic nature of it, and film it just like a normal movie. The series is dead at this point and it probably should be taken out of Plaza's hands at this point because it's obvious he just wants to make dramatic comedies.

  3. I agree. The found footage format is one of the things that made the first two [REC] movies scary. The suspense was much more palpable and imminent, and it allowed the viewers to put themselves into the shoes of the camera man, which made the scares all the more intense for them.

  4. you realize this movie was the equivalent to "diary of the dead" right? took place at the same time or shortly after rec 1 and 2?at least thats what i remember of it.

  5. Rick Weller,
    It took place after [REC] 2, but wasn't a true sequel to the series.

    And, now that you mention it, I totally see the parallel between the two movies, if only for the fact that they both had terrible plots, shallow characters, and terrible acting in them. :D