After seeing Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza’s Spanish found footage [REC] back in 2009 I knew the subgenre was here to stay. While many will battle the cinema verite direction by wrongfully comparing it to 3-D, what the style actually does is provide a different perspective for storytelling. The only thing annoying about found footage, now, is the director/writer/character’s constant reference to the camera. So when Paco Plaza decides it’s time to end the craze with his solo-directed [REC] 3 Genesis, he not only kills the film’s tension, but also disrespects the filmmaking style that turned him into a horror legend.
Genesis drops us right in the middle of a wedding where two cameramen are established; One family member carries a handheld with “HD with pixels and stuff”, the other is an overzealous videographer who is shooting “a film”. The groom’s uncle has a dog bite from the vet, which is Plaza’s way of tying the franchise together and bringing the madness to a soon-to-be red wedding. Sh*t hits the fan when the uncle falls off a balcony and begins biting guests. Crammed in a hallway the videographer references the camera (sigh) and screams, “We’ve got to document this,” while the groom flips out and breaks the camera. The footage pulls out to reveal the camera on the floor with its red light slowly fading out. The genre is dead, says Plaza. The title card hits and from here on out the scope expands, the cinematography hits 10 and the audience is now watching a feature film. It’s infuriating being the franchise is called [REC] and that the most intelligent thing about the plot is that is actually calls for cameras to be used! Big, big mistake.
From here on out the sequel becomes your stereotypical infected horror film, with most of the scares coming from off-screen jolts (with loud audio stings), and the rest filled with violent death scenes that shockingly didn’t get much of an audience reaction. It was really interesting watching theatergoers sit in silence as people are chain sawed in half and decapitated, which was telling of the poor choice in losing the cameras. While the loud stings had all of us jumping, there was no post-scare chatter, and even worse is that none of this will work on a home theater system, which is where most of you will see this.
Another odd decision was to make Genesis a comedy. While there are some hilarious beats (the Bride has an awkward conversation with a friend about how she was only invited because the Bride felt bad, and the friend only came because plane tickets were so cheap), it breaks the tension in a not-so-great way, mostly because Genesis is working so desperately hard to create the tension in the first place. Everything feels so burnt out.
Plaza bounces between the Bride and the Groom as they fight to reunite, mixing in tales of both faith and love. When the Bride finally becomes the hard-nosed protag shi*t gets real (albeit brief). She grabs a chainsaw and continually screams, “this is MY day!” while shredding a few infected guests. But it’s not enough and never taps into that Peter Jackson Dead Alive territory, as it should. The Groom wears battle armor and carries a sword that was previously used to cut a cake. Unfortunately, there’s no payoff to the sword and armor as the audience is left clamoring for more. In short, there’s not enough blood.
It sucks writing a negative review when you actually had a pretty great time watching a film. Genesis isn’t bad, not even close, it’s just riddled with head-scratching decisions that all stem from Plaza’s desire to step away from the found footage subgenre — IT’S CALLED [REC]…