[Rec]3: Genesis is a film that can either be viewed as a rebirth of sorts for the franchise or the beginning of the end. The previous two instalments in the [Rec] series have been considered by many as the high bar in the faux found footage horror genre. They consistently exceeded expectations by offering fresh scares while still following a familiar formula. This is why it is a little perplexing to see director Paco Plaza opt to take the franchise in a new direction the way he did.
The most noticeable change to the series in [Rec]3: Genesis is that it abandons the found footage troupe fairly early on in the film. The story this time takes place at the wedding of Koldo (Diego Martin) and Clara (Leticia Dolrea). The film starts off as a fake wedding video seemingly made by footage taken by both Koldo’s cousin and the wedding photographer. We meet some of the family members and get a brief sense of everyone’s relation in the film. The happy couple’s perfect day takes a turn for the worst when an uncle takes an unexpected fall during the reception.
At first everyone just assumes that the fall was a result of having too much to drink. However, as the camera gets closer it becomes apparent that the uncle has been infected with the same virus that afflicted so many in the previous [Rec] films. Soon the reception is overrun by zombies and Carla, Koldo and their guest must run for their lives. It is at this point where Plaza abruptly opts to discard the found footage trope as the main video camera gets destroyed in the chaos.
While Plaza uses security camera footage every now and then, [Rec]3: Genesis plays like your standard horror film from this point on. Unfortunately, by taking away one on of the key elements that made the franchise so memorable, Plaza is forced to find creative ways to fill the void and is rarely successful in doing so. Though the notion of the zombies having links to Catholicism is a novel concept the film rarely explores this in any great length. Outside of a few key shots that allude to the possibility of fallen angels, Plaza completely wastes this opportunity to instead focus primarily on the plight of Carla and Koldo trying to reunite with each other.
Playing like a romance infused zombie comedy at times, Plaza injects far more humour into this instalment than the previous ones. Sure gags like Sponge Bob copyright infringement may bring a smirk the first time it is referenced, but it becomes tiresome rather quickly. Sadly many of the jokes fall flat as you can see the set up coming from a mile away. In fact, that is one of the major problems with [Rec]3: Genesis, you know which direction the film is going every step of the way. There are no surprises and characters seemingly go out of their way to make stupid decisions. This really hinders several moments, such as when Carla decides to fight back with a chainsaw, that otherwise should have felt energizing.
It is hard not to think that most fans of the series will be rather disappointed with [Rec]3: Genesis. The film offers nothing new to either the zombie or horror genre. [Rec]3: Genesis feels like a massive step backwards for the franchise. Paco Plaza has proven in the past that he knows how to create thrilling terror. It is just too bad he could not conjure up the same magic for a third straight time.