Dredd; The Words; [REC]³ Génesis; Robot & Frank; Branded; The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure
by Sean "Keanu Grieves" Hanson
EXPECTATIONS: This is the IMDb plot summary for [REC]³ Génesis: "A couple's wedding day turns into a horrific events (sic) as some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness." Basically Melancholia ... with zombies.
REALITY: If [REC] is Alien and [REC]² is Aliens, [REC]³ Génesis is somewhere between Alien: Resurrection and Inseminoid. It's bad, it's not of a piece with the first two films and ... yet, it's not unenjoyable. IMDb neglects to inform you that the events of [REC]³ Génesis run parallel to those of [REC], and they run so far from those of [REC] they occur in an alternate universe of semi-wacky splatterific horror-comedy.
One of the wedding guests is a man dressed as a poor imitation of SpongeBob, who refuses to remove his cumbersome costume because he's naked underneath; a zombie meets the business end of an electric hand mixer, with grisly results; "French girls are slutty" is a recurring theme. Yes, it's that kind of movie. A mixed bag. A kitchen sink.
But I'll be damned if it doesn't have its moments.
The first of those moments occurs early in the film. The wedding party has turned into a zombie orgy. Koldo (Diego Martín) turns to the camera man. "Are you still filming?" he asks.
"Yes, I'm still filming," the camera man says. "The people have a right to know what happened here."
"Ah, yes, a well-worn found-footage cliché," you're thinking, but Koldo immediately grabs the camera, smashes it to the ground and [REC]³ Génesis ditches the found-footage format for traditional narrative cinema. I'm not saying this is the correct choice for the sequel to two of the most effective found-footage horror films ever made, but it's commendably audacious meta-commentary on the narrative leap such films must make nonetheless.
Also, the wedding videographer, a dead ringer for Kevin Smith, slits his wrists because he's too fat to escape through an air duct. High-brow, for sure.
Unfortunately, [REC]³ Génesis' fatal flaw is that pervasive flippancy. Its predecessors, co-directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, were intense, scary and almost entirely devoid of humor. After Balagueró ditched the [REC] franchise to make the excellent Sleep Tight, Plaza must've thrown up his hands and said, "Fuck it." In Spanish. Because [REC]³ Génesis, directed solely by Plaza, is 80 minutes of fan service, a fluff piece that panders to fans of the genre [REC] sought to redefine. This is a sequel that runs contrary, rather than parallel, to [REC].
Consider this narrative development: Trapped in a sewer, with hordes of zombies closing in, the petite Clara (Leticia Dolera) grabs a chainsaw, casually rests it on one leg, pull-starts the motor and saws off half of her wedding dress, to allow for upskirts whenever she climbs a ladder. Presumably, such emergency alteration would allow for greater mobility, but she keeps her heels on. The chainsaw's unreliable, running low on gas. She knows karate. Oh, and her mascara's running into a bandit stripe. These contrivances exist only so we can root for a semi-naked pseudo-Gothic bride chainsawing her way to freedom, with the occasional roundhouse kick or high-heel to the eyeball when her weapon of choice is acting up. I'd consider this a spoiler, seeing as it occurs fairly late into the movie, but the image is on the poster.
[REC]³ Génesis thinks it knows what you want, and it does, provided you don't want a proper [REC] sequel ... or really anything besides a moderately entertaining zombie flick. Too bad [REC] set such a high bar for such low art.
MINORITY REPORT: Chainsaws and zombies seem to go together like hedge-trimmers and hedges that need trimming. At some point in the future, somebody will pick up a chainsaw and assume that its primary purpose is for the dismembering of the undead. They won't even consider the fact that you can saw wood with it. - Ian "Professor Clumsy" Maddison