Movie sequels and trilogies are a tricky thing to get right. You want to stay true to the originals, while still bringing something new to the table. It’s a bit of a catch 22. You can assume that the audience is already familiar with the characters and the basic plotline, so you can save some time in background and development. Skip the foreplay, grab the Astro-glide and get strait down to the banging. The problem is, not everybody has the stamina to bang for an hour and a half. So you have people trying fancy finger tricks and weird butt stuff and –wait, this metaphor is over. But you get the picture. Unless there’s a great new addition to the story, a filmmaker is just going to deploy gimmicks and clichés to fill out the bits of the film that would have been spent on background and character development. As a result, the characters often feel flat in sequels and trilogies and this sets the film up to fail.
In his 2012 installment of the found-footage zombie series Rec 3: Genesis, Paco Plaza has made a noble effort to bring new life to the series, though he didn’t quite pull it off. The issue was that he tried to make it bigger than it was. The previous 2 films took place inside a small apartment building. Rec 3 takes place in a large banquet hall and the surrounding area with buildings, woods, and an underground tunnel. It’s just too much space to handle in this format.
The movie takes place at a wedding reception, and it’s catered buffet-style. Probably a couple hundred guests (aka hors d’oeuvres). We meet the happy couple and a few of their closest, most delicious friends. Of course there’s a guy with a dog bite on his hand (and we immediately think of the scene in REC 1 where the girl mentions her sick dog at the vet, before she eats her mom). So this dude turns out to be the new “patient-zero” of the film. He starts chowing down on wedding guests and projectilly-vomiting blood onto people. Pretty soon, there’s a full-on outbreak and the bride and groom get separated amidst the chaos. Basically the last 2/3 of the film is the two of them trying to find each other and not get eaten. It gets a little too lovey-dovey when they keep saying things like, “I know he/she is still alive; I can feel her spirit.” Come on.
The whole thing was very, very slightly tongue-in-cheek. There are some little moments of comedy and kitschyness that took away from the scariness a little. There are times when it’s a little to stylish and cool to be scary, like when the bride uses a chainsaw to cut away the bottom of her dress so she can run/eviscerate zombies better/sexier. (Though the scene with the chainsaw is fucking perfect). And while we’re on the subject, these people can’t seem to hold on to a weapon to save their lives (no pun intended). Throughout the film, we see our heros discard a medieval spiked mace and shield, a sword and a fucking chainsaw. You don’t even deserve to survive this film if you lack the self-preservation and common sense to hold on to these things.
Finally, I felt a little cheated that this movie just nodded to the originals and didn’t pick up on the direct potline from the end of the REC 2. The ending of that movie was great and I’d have liked to see where it was going. Guess we’ll have to wait for Rec 4. Edit: I originally said this as a joke but there appears to be a Rec 4 in the works.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about this movie. The zombies are great, though not as aggressive as in the previous films. They’re somewhere between Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later. And like I said, everything is just on too grand a scale. There are too many characters up front and they seem to get awkward amounts of development before they die. We kind of get to know some people in little bursts and waves and then they’re just gone.
The verdict: Not the best in the series, but not a bad follow-up either. It’s solid zombie fun but doesn’t open any new doors.
- Is it scary: 3– Fairly scary, but some of the effect is taken away but the style choices and the subtle humor.
- Originality: 5– Pretty much run of the mill. Slight twist on the same format as the first 2 in the series.
- Blood: 7– Pretty good and bloody throughout. Not much more to ask for here.
- Believability: 5– I think this one falls flat a bit. Characters leaving behind weapons is a big deal breaker for me. It just sets up unnecessary intensity because any rational person would still be armed and able to defend themselves.
- Setting/Cinematography: 6– Tough call here. The setting was fine, but possibly too big to handle appropriately, given the format. Plaza did turn away from the found footage stuff for most of the film, while keeping bits and pieces of it. I thought that was cool. In general, the cinematography was well done.
Final Score: 26/50