(A.k.a. [REC]3: EL ORIGEN)

Following a montage of chronological photographs charting the blooming relationship between lovers Koldo (Diego Martin) and Clara (Leticia Dolera), set to the strains of a cheesy Spanish pop song, we’re taken to the setting of their wedding day on one sunny afternoon.

Family and friends alike congregate merrily outside a local church, their tomfoolery and generally chilled mood being caught under the watchful gaze of Koldo’s cousin Adrian’s (Alex Monner) HD camcorder.

Also there to film the wedding, albeit with a more professional set-up, is hired wedding recorder Atun (Borja Glez. Santaolalla).

Following a traditional service that goes without hitch, even when Koldo is taken to singing to his new bride at the front of the church while his boisterous mates clap along from the pews, the congregation make their way via buses to the nearby reception.

As filmed through Adrian’s ever-probing camera, he’s not joking when he remarks that his cousin and his new bride "must’ve spent a fortune": it’s a lavish do, no doubt about that.

Adrian uses his camera to follow good-looking female guests and MILFs around, Granddad has a few pearls of wisdom to offer here and there, Koldo’s friends get drunker and drunker … It’s the usual wedding video stuff, right down to the newlyweds’ amorous first dance and the sozzled speeches shortly afterwards.

Later in the evening, Adrian continues to film his pissed family members while Atun focuses on capturing the party’s more formal celebrations. Adrian fixates on filming his Uncle Pepe vomiting – oblivious to that look in Pepe’s eyes which viewers of [REC] or [REC]2 will be only too familiar with.

Then, the cops turn up. Inside the plush venue, the revellers are too noisy and too drunk to even notice as the exterior of the building is cordoned off. That is, until Pepe puts a stop to the merrymaking by biting a chunk out of an aging aunt’s face.

Suddenly, pandemonium reigns. More possessed guests start taking bites out of the others, the bride screams louder than anyone else and Adrian continues to capture the whole kafuffle – albeit with a somewhat shakier hand than before.

"People have a right to know! I have to film everything!" the disbelieving groom is told as Atun also resumes filming. Koldo promptly smashes his camera and, 21 minutes into the film, the title finally appears on the screen …

Occurring a few miles away from the tenement building that was the hub of so much violence and paranoia in the first two [REC] films, GENESIS – awful title, makes it sound more like an Xbox game than a Spanish horror film – was originally announced as a prequel. It’s not, it’s a sequel of sorts. Although it does, cannily at times, incorporate and expand upon elements from the earlier films (the enigmatic figures loitering with their intent of quarantining the party, etc).

Survivors holed up in isolation, slowly realising that they will not get help from those on the outside; fast-moving attack scenes that don’t skimp on the gore: fans of the series so far will know to expect these ingredients.

But in stark contrast to the preceding two instalments of the [REC] series, both of which were co-directed by Paco Plaza and Jaume Balageuro, almost all of the action on this occasion occurs either in the broad daylight or in amply lit conditions. Gone is the claustrophobic darkness of before. It’s perhaps a stylistic necessity, Plaza going it alone in the director’s chair for this outing and perhaps being aware that he can only rely on the same formula so many times. It is jarring to begin with – although there’s no denying that this approach does rob some key scenes of both the tension and lo-fi finesse of its predecessors as a consequence.

Also pivotal to the series’ earlier episodes has been the handheld camera format. Indeed, the original [REC] stands not only as 2007’s most effective horror film but quite possibly the final word in ‘found footage’ genre offerings. Its 2009 sequel, against the odds, proved itself to be a worthy follow-up while blending a continuation of the same fraught storyline and expansions on the mystery behind the original’s action.

Here, the handheld camera footage is present for the first third of the film only. After that, the action is captured more traditionally by Steadicams etc and the format of the series changes. Again, this could be due to Plaza’s wariness of repetition.

It doesn’t matter too much when Plaza’s dishing up the set-pieces, as a lot of them remain tense and bloody. In-between, however, the director (who also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Luiso Berdejo) fills the film with unwise moments of humour and a second half that descends into, well, silliness. Check out the cover art for a hint of what’s to come.

Worst of all, the film is just too slick once it loses the handheld camera format. It’s certainly not a bad film per se, but would’ve been better served had it disassociated itself from the [REC] franchise.

The screener disc provided for review purposes by Entertainment One was a very early, basic promo affair (it contained the film only) and therefore is not necessarily indicative of what will hit the shops.

Having said that, the anamorphic picture was very impressive indeed and it’s a struggle to imagine the film looking much, if any, better. Colours were vivid and natural, images were sharp and amazingly clear – this shot-on-HD effort really did look great.

As for the Spanish 2.0 audio track provided, that was a reliable and problem-free proposition too. Optional English subtitles were well-written and always easy to make out thanks to their black borderlines.

As mentioned above, the screener disc provided did not indulge in extra features or even menu screens.

[REC]3 isn’t a great film then, but it does have its moments and still provides a lot of entertainment once it gets going. Fans of the first two instalments are likely to balk at its change of tone and pace though, and it may be enough to make some fret for the fate of the forthcoming [REC]4: APOCALYPSE.

Also available on blu-ray.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Entertainment One
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review