A lovely wedding annihilated by the new plague
Paco Plaza’s [REC] from 2007 had its moments, but I wasn’t as wowed like the majority of fans. Yes, he kept it real and atmospheric, and the conflict amongst characters provided great storytelling strength, but a fullblown suspense element seemed to be lacking, and the end took the story in a bad fantasy direction. I felt the same about the American version aka QUARANTINE (2008). Still, as found footage goes, this was pretty solid. The writer/director took us into the same nightmare with a different source, a SWAT team instead of a news crew riding with firefighters in 2009’s second installment. Like the first, he had kept the tale sharp and dramatic, but this appeared to be more like a shoot ‘em up video game, which allowed for little character development. The third, however, is a complete travesty.
[REC]3: GENESIS begins as if an homage to CLOVERFIELD (2008). We are introduced to many characters who all come together for an event, this time a wedding. This means a slow start, but it’s all for the characters so we know who to root and cry for. Sticking with the expected found footage subgenre, Plaza gives us several angles and interpretations from a few video cameras thanks to a hired wedding videographer Atún (played perfectly by Borja Glez. Santaolalla in his first acting role), and young Adrian (Alex Monner) as well as the bride’s younger sister. But once the carnage begins during the secluded reception, the groom destroys Atún’s camera and the editing transition from a fade to black cut brings us out of found footage mode. Instead, we are suddenly left in a typical Hollywood-like realm for the second and third acts. I guess no one wanted to film daddy eating Aunt Cecilia. The story not only loses its intimacy and authenticity, but the entire tone changes, and even Mikel Salas’s music becomes hokey as if we’re headed into sitcom central or the very worst of Sam Raimi. What once seemed to be a thrilling hellride to come, disintegrated into hackneyed and campy idiocy that will leave audiences scratching their heads at such a ludicrous and off putting turn for the worst.
It’s Clara (Letitia Delora) and Kolda’s (Diego Martin) wedding day, and nothing could be better: happy family, blue sky and fun all around. But Kolda’s concerned about the nasty dog bite on his vetenarian uncle’s hand, though no one seems to notice that the jovial doctor disintegrates into “weirdness”. All seems well until the reception when the good uncle turns bad and starts taking his own bites out of people.
Granted, the lovely Letitia Delora navigates many emotions, as does Martin, but their spirited performances are not enough to salvage an awkward, uneven and ultimately poorly written tale. Even Pablo Rosso’s almost too perfect cinematography and the wonderful effects paled as the original feel, tone and storyline went way off the rails to B-movie campiness and trite humor.
So what the hell happened? I’m not certain, but one must wonder if Plaza wanted to sabotage the franchise in order to prevent future features, like [REC]10: PLANET TAKEOVER or something, or maybe he dropped acid, or maybe he simply doesn’t give a damn. Whatever the reason, it’s led many fans I know to gasp and simply ask, “Why?!”
Additionally, Plaza got lazy. In the first and second features, it’s clear he’s paying attention to every detail in order to deliver a poignant narrative that keeps audience members on their toes. But several strange things happen. Once the uncle starts to chow down, the partygoers suddenly seem to be inundated by crazed zombie-like freaks from every nook and cranny – and we’re a far cry from where the original story takes place. At one point, it also appears that this may be Adrian’s story, yet after the first act, the boy and all youngsters vanish. They don’t even return as carriers. The dumbest element took place when characters in the kitchen tried to escape through a grate. The videographer had a screwdriver on his pockect knife, but it fell through the open metal slats. However, the kitchen is loaded with knives and other silverware, enough to warrant using one as a tool to remove the pesky grate, but that never dawned on anyone in the damn room. The worst part of all is that we’re thrust into a magical, mystical realm when the “zombies” can be frozen in place by chanting Roman Catholic prayers, and the reflections of the carriers appear as even more monstrous demons. Umm… What?
I have never seen a franchise deviate in such an atrocious manner from the foundation of its first two films. Well, not since HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982), the only installment without slasher freak Michael Myers.
Granted, I expected a cool, honest and genuine fight for survival, but the comic nature of SpongeJohn (a guy dressed up as a SpongeBob ripoff to avoid copyright infringement), a chainsaw hostile bride, and the silly gorefest that follows (a far lesser version of Peter Jackson’s DEAD ALIVE (New Zealand, 1992), left me with heavy sighs and a headache from rolling my eyes too often. Act two silliness completely obliterated all suspense and tension.
The thirty-nine-year-old writer/director has nothing coming up movie-wise, and that’s a good thing. Plaza needs to rest and clear his head, and maybe even detox (or maybe start drinking for that matter). Otherwise, if there is another [REC] venture, few may watch.
The 1.5 stars goes to the acting, cinematography and special effects makeup. Instead of proving how found footage could be done, Plaza made himself a laughing stock by wrecking his own series – probably for good.
1.5 of 5 stars