REC – Genesis (Cert 18)

1 Disc (Distributor: Entertainment One) Running Time: 77 minutes

It’s the wedding day of Koldo (Diego Martín) and Clara (Leticia Dolera) and everyone is having a good time at the reception although there are concerns about Uncle Victor (Emilio Mencheta), a vet who is sporting a bite on his right hand from a sick dog at his clinic prior to the ceremony, who is filmed by professional wedding cameraman Atún (Borja Glez. Santaolalla) throwing up blood.

During the celebrations Victor suddenly appears on the balcony and falls to the floor below. Yet he isn’t dead. Not really. He’s undead. And so are the other blood thirsty zombies who gatecrash the party, sending everyone and everything into turmoil.

The first REC film in 2007 was a huge success, added an extra dimension of horror to the virtually moribund “found hand held camera footage” genre of filmmaking, started by the Blair Witch Project in 1999. The 2009 sequel was equally as terrifying continuing the style and formula of the first film, which left things open for a third film, which brings us to REC – Genesis.

Fans of the first two films and the POV (point of view) camera style and unpredictable shocks are in for some disappointment. The film opens with a unique tease playing of a professional wedding video to set up the festivities of the day as the background for the story before lapsing into the POV style for the next twenty minutes. Then we get a title graphic and suddenly we switch to the standard third person camera view.

Yes, the film series that reinvented the first person view point genre turns into a regular, acted, edited, multi angle, musical  soundtrack accompanied film! From then on we follow the plight of our bride and groom as they become separated amidst the panic and try in vain to be reunited with each other while avoided certain death from the hoard of flesh craving infected mutants who were once their friends and family.

Had this been a straight up zombie film it may have had a better chance of winning over audiences but since it uses the REC name to sell itself, it automatically leaves itself wide open for failure and harsher criticism, arguably doing more harm to the franchise than good. There is also some confusion over where this film stands in the chronology of the REC canon.

Despite being the third film in the series, the subtitle “Genesis” is a festive clue to telegraph the fact the origins of the infection which created the flesh eating antagonists of the first film (if one recalls, a young girl at the apartment block had a sick dog which was put down after biting a vet and other dogs), making this in essence a prequel.

Or so it would seem but the series creator and director Paco Plaza hadn’t sold this as s sequel to REC 2. And if that wasn’t enough, there is going to be a fourth film, REC: Apocalypse with original protagonist Ángela Vidal returning for a third run. Confused? Be my guest!

But surely the film can’t be that bad right? Sadly it can. The actual horror aspect is well done as far as the carnage and make up of the infected masses, the severed body parts and geysers of claret are concerned. Where the flaws lie – aside from losing the key selling point of the franchise in the POV aspect – is how the script is chock full of clichés, with all the scares telegraphed by the musical score and multiple angles from having additional camera views. It is also wildly comic and borders more on parody than genuine horror.

Considering one character is a children’s entertainer called John Sponge to avoid copyright one hopes Plaza’s tongue was firmly in his cheek. Unfortunately, this isn’t made explicitly clear and again, if this wasn’t a REC film, a greater tolerance would be shown towards it. And before anyone suggests that this could be a Spanish Shaun Of the Dead, go to IMDb and look up Juan Of the Dead.

Script woes aside the production values are high and the visuals are stunning so Blu-ray viewers are in for a treat. Speaking of stunning, Leticia Dolera is a very eye pleasing leading lady who miraculously transforms from nervous and panicky bride, to all out kick ass machine as no-one is going to ruin her special day!

She even goes as far to take a chainsaw to her wedding dress for ease of mobility, giving us some fan service in the process via her sexy legs with a red garter. Dolera’s wide eyes make her the perfect horror heroine when she is in fear but when the sudden transformation to battling bride occurs we return to comedy territory, not in the least because Clara does what none of the males could do and grows a set!

Clocking in at just seventy-seven minutes one couldn’t imagine that REC: Genesis would be able to be much of a disappointment but it sadly manages that particular ignominious honour. If one can somehow disassociate this film from the previous REC outings it might stand a chance of being a passable enough diversion on a Saturday night. But, with the established parent name attached to it, that could prove to be a difficult task.

Extras:

Spanish Language with English Subtitles

 

Rating – ** ½

Man In Black