Oct 12, 2015
Day 12: [REC] 3: GENESIS (2012)
Listen, I know that some of y'all out there don't like found footage/P.O.V. horror movies. Or maybe you did like them at one point but now you find them totally played out and tired. I get it! After the runaway success of Paranormal Activity, it's no surprise that film producers and filmmakers alike popped the boner heard 'round the world. Found footage can be cheap to make, so a film with a theatrical or wide release will likely bring a huge return on investment. It also means that anyone with a camera can have a go at the genre. For every one P.O.V. flick that does something original or interesting, there are 20,000 piles of crap. I know, because I've sat through most of them! Yes, let me say it loud and say it proud in case you did not already know: I loves me some found footage, even if it's mostly garbage.
The point is, I was predisposed to enjoy [REC] 3–and I would have been even if I didn't love love loooove [REC] (2007) and like a lot [REC] 2 (2009).
As Genesis begins, "we" fire up the wedding DVD of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martín) and it's just...it's perfect with the corny titles and graphics that accompany their love story. I settled in, because this was some serious found footage goodness, and I was riding a high like the one I get after mainlining Crystal Light Raspberry Ice. (By "mainlining", I mean "mixing it with water and drinking it like a normal person would, what did you think I meant?")
Then we get to footage from the wedding day, shot by various guests and a professional videographer. We meet some of the cast, including Uncle Pepe, who sports a bandaged-but-bleeding wound on his hand from a dog bite ("HMM, CURIOUS." - everyone who saw [REC]). We get a sense of the size of the wedding reception–it's freaking huge, and there are a fuckton of people in attendance. And then, much like the first film in the series, things go to Hell in the blink of an eye. One moment, Uncle Pepe seems drunk and barfs everywhere; the next moment, he's biting someone's face off.
As I said, there are a lot of revelers in the reception hall, and so the virus passes quickly and brutally from one guest to the next. It's pure, bloody chaos, very much like the first film on amphetamines. Everything is jacked up to eleven due to the sheer size of it all. During the initial frenzy, Koldo and a few others–including the videographer, Atún–find safety in the kitchen. Koldo is stunned that Atún has kept his camera rolling; when Atún replies that people "need to see" what's unfolding–a line pretty much ripped straight from [REC]–Koldo smashes his camera.
And then there's a title screen. And before you can think to yourself, "Wait, did [REC] have a title screen?", Genesis continues...as a...movie movie. That's right, director/co-writer/co-creator of the series Paco Plaza answers the question every P.O.V. fan has asked at one time or another: "Why do they keep filming?" by changing the game completely. Koldo has literally kicked the found footage concept to pieces, and I'm not sure whether or not it's brilliant or infuriating. One thing is for sure, though–the effect is incredibly jarring. To go from handheld shakycam footage to regular ol' hi-def footage with cinematic angles and a soundtrack...holy crap. It all seemed so fake, which I suppose speaks to how well found footage can work.
It took a lot of getting used to. Sure, there's the extreme shift in visual style. But it's more than that. Not only does this third film cast off the P.O.V. shackles of its predecessors, but it also lightens up the self-serious tone established in the first two entries. Genesis is nearly a horror/comedy, with jokes and over-the-top violence and gore reminiscent of early Peter Jackson and even Lamberto Bava's Demons. After I acclimated to the fact that this wasn't simply another [REC], I came to appreciate it enough on its own merits. It's pretty stupid and loud, but it's also pretty fun in that Dead Alive vein. A good time, if you will. As Koldo and Clara try to find each other, there's all manner of "zombie" violence. I mean, once a character busts out a chainsaw, you kind of know what kind of movie it wants to be.
Genesis is sort of the Halloween III of the series–they're trying something new and shaking up the formula. Though it expands the [REC] mythos a bit (if you want to go so far as to call it a "mythos"), this film stands alone, an outlier than can absolutely be ignored if that "something new" doesn't work for you. At the very least, they get a gold star for trying, right?