[REC]³ Génesis (Paco Plaza, 2012)

[REC] is probably one of my favorite horror films of all time (even if its demonic-possession-blood-disease premise is absurd even by zombie movie standards) and one of the few entries in the increasingly maddening found footage sub-genre that I can actually stand.  Its slow build-up of something being very wrong in this quarantined apartment building is downright awesome, leading to one of the most frightening, and earned, endings I’ve ever seen in a movie of this or almost any genre.  [Rec] ², its sequel dealing with the direct aftermath of the first film, in the same apartment building with a new set of emergency responders waiting to be served up to the infected, had its moments but was essentially more of the same, with added emphasis on explaining the, again, ridiculous premise that took away from the what-the-fuck-is-going-on-here air of mystery of the first film.  Apparently the filmmakers heard my complaint, so how do they rectify the second film’s slight stumble?  Why, by completely abandoning the found-footage structure (except for the first few minutes’ wedding reception – needless to say, the best part of the film) and everything that made the first film so incredibly unnerving, creating what I guess is, what, a parody of the two more serious films that came before?  If not, this was nothing more than a typical zombie movie with effects and gore from any “Walking Dead” episode and some extremely strange humor, completely jarring when considering the two films that came before this (alright, I laughed at the character/running gag of SpongeJohn, the children’s entertainer hoping to avoid copyright infringement, but even that was hideously out of place in this series and even this genre).  The premise is a promising one, as amateur footage from a relative and a professional wedding photographer depict a wedding that goes swimmingly, which in this kind of movie only heightens the tension that something, eventually, will go incredibly wrong.  And when it does, the chaos is satisfying, a group of survivors hole up in the kitchen, and…the camera is thrown to the ground, we’re transitioned to a traditional film format for the rest of the duration, and the combination of gore, elaborate kills, and odd humor make this little more than an “Evil Dead” or “Dead Alive” knock-off, with characters doing an awfully good job of taking this downright apocalyptic situation in Ash Williams-style stride, rather than the no-names from the first two films with whom we could nonetheless identify simply due to their collective sense of mutual claustrophobic terror.  Some of the action and gore and kills are fun to watch, sure, but they’re merely images I’ll forget in a day or two, whereas the mere sense of dread I got from the first film, while indescribable as an specific image or sound, is something I still have sensory memories of to this day, years after watching the film.  I suppose the filmmakers had the right idea trying to revive a series that was close to becoming stale.  If only they didn’t do it in a format even more stale than the found-footage format that [REC] pioneered.

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