The third installment of this nerve-shredding Spanish zombie franchise sadly loses both the plot and the concept.
Is it satire? Black comedy? Retro horror? As [REC]3 Génesis staggers between clichés like a drunken wedding guest, it becomes easier to say what it’s not. And what it’s not is a [REC] movie. At least, not as you know it.
The first two instalments of Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s thrilling, found-footage franchise trapped us inside a Barcelona apartment block overrun with zombies, first alongside a TV crew and then, in the sequel, the rescue squad sent to find out what happened to them. It was an airless, claustrophobic and nerve-shreddingly tense environment. So it’s with a subversive sense of surprise that we’re pitched into glaring sunshine and cordially invited to attend the wedding of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martín).
Captured on HD shaky cam by family and friends, everything appears to be going swimmingly. But with so many of the magazine model guests looking a bit tasty, it isn’t long before one drunken uncle, infected by a mysterious dog bite, has turned the wedding banquet into a bloodbath. And then, just as [REC] veterans are acclimatising to the change of location, Plaza drops a bombshell.
“Turn that fucking camera off!” Koldo yells. It’s a refrain we’ve heard a million times before, only this time… it happens. And just like that, [REC]3 Génesis segues from tautly subjective zombie thriller to hackneyed genre also-ran.
Where the first two chapters displayed iron-fisted control and sharp wits, Génesis lumbers around in search of inspiration. Finding it in clumsy homages to Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi, the gore level may be upped, but the quality bar is definitely lowered.
Only Leticia Dolera makes a mark, her doll-like Corpse Bride smartly appropriating Bruce Campbell’s square-jawed machismo and stealing the limelight from her armour-clad amour.
There’s a scattering of sparse laughs but their impact is dulled by the fatal dearth of originality, tonal inconsistency and the simple fact of the film’s ugliness – the grainy home video footage is actually as good as it gets.
Is this really the same director who left audiences electrified with his first two films, or just some undead impostor? Because there isn’t a single new idea in Génesis, nor a single real scare. It may be that we’re seeing the rebirth of [REC] as a long-term franchise, but it feels more like bearing witness to a death.
The first two [REC] movies were minor classics.
Where previously we’d been gasping for breath, now we can feel the air leaking out of the screen.
Somebody alert the advertising watchdog. There’s a DOA zombie flick doing the rounds pretending to be a [REC] movie.