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[REC] 3: Génesis  (2012)
2 Stars
Directed by Paco Plaza.
Cast: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martín, Álex Monner, Claire Baschet, Jana Soler, Ismael Martinez, Ana Isabel Velásquez, Carla Nieto, Sr. B, Mireia Ros, Emilio Mencheta, Javier Botet.
2012 – 80 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for strong bloody violence and some language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, August 3, 2012.
2007's "[REC]" and 2010's "[REC] 2"—stirring, dead-serious companion pieces brought to fruition like living nightmares worse than most people's nastiest dreams, woven together with first-person found footage of a deadly viral outbreak in an apartment building that turns the infected into raving, bloodthirsty lunatics. 2012's "[REC] 3: Génesis"—a gore-drenched black comedy primarily shot as a conventional genre pic, about a wedding that quickly deteriorates when the same virus simultaneously sweeps through the guest list. Directed by one-half of the duo responsible for the previous two films, Paco Plaza, this second sequel discouragingly lies right in its title, since there are very few, if any hints, to the genesis of this either biological or supernatural epidemic. Going for laughs more often than scares—another bad decision—and not particularly furthering the original premise in any substantial way, "[REC] 3: Génesis" comes off as a rather pointless lark. It certainly doesn't come close to earning the revery of its moniker.

It's the blissful wedding day of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martín), and as Koldo's cousin Adrian (Álex Monner) and professional videographer Atún (Sr. B) run amok capturing both the ceremony and the reception along the Spanish countryside, no one has any way of knowing how fast it is all about to fall apart. Beginning with a mysterious dog bite on Uncle Victor's (Emilio Mencheta) hand, the poor man grows increasingly sick until he's literally biting into the neck of his wife. Chaos ensues thereafter, the eavesdropping documentary-style camera work making way for a more regular filmic approach, complete with accompanying music score and polished cinematography that glides around with next to no shaky-cam in sight. Torn apart and hiding out in different locations on the estate, Clara and Koldo make it their mission to reunite once more before they, too, fall prey to the plague surrounding them.

The most effective scenes in "[REC] 3: Génesis" are the early ones, prior to disaster striking. Opening with a fake DVD menu screen, the first twenty minutes or so take on the appearance of a genuine wedding video. Instantly immersive, the first act, as it were, sets up the characters and the joyous celebratory nature of the event especially well, with most viewers painfully aware of how downhill everything is about to go. Once the style change occurs, director Paco Plaza loses his way, unable to think of a single set-piece that's the least bit frightening or unnerving. Choosing to bring the lanky-limbed demonic specter Nina Medeiros (Javier Botet) into the proceedings was smart—she is, after all, the top reason "[REC]" and "[REC] 2" linger so hauntingly in one's mind—but she is wasted on a gimmick (all of the infected zombies show up as Nina in reflections).

If the former two installments in the Spanish-language "[REC]" series are ghastly and disturbing throughout, filled with tension even a knife wouldn't be able to cut through, "[REC] 3: Génesis" includes a determined groom and a squat sidekick comically clomping around in metal suits of armors and a bride who proves mighty handy with a chainsaw. It all adds up to a conclusion overcome with maudlin, star-crossed "Romeo and Juliet" overtones followed by a segue to end credits that will have fans of the earlier films feeling cheated. Instead of causing viewers to fear going to sleep, the only thing "[REC] 3: Génesis" accomplishes is offering up the one-of-a-kind sight of a man dressed in a SpongeJohn costume (Bob is copyrighted, you see) getting assaulted by three cannibalistic ghouls. Since a fourth "[REC]" is already on the way, let us hope it returns the series to form. This is one misbegotten deviation from the norm not worth repeating.
© 2012 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman