[REC]³: Génesis (Paco Plaza, 2012)
I have been hypothesizing all along that [REC] franchise “co-directors” Jaume Balagero and Paco Plaza are no such thing, and that Plaza has been doing all the heavy lifting here. (I refuse to believe that the guy who spewed out the horrible Darkness had anything to do with these movies.) We move closer to that hypothesis being conclusively proven or disproven; Plaza and Balaguero parted ways for the final two movies in the series, with Plaza directing Génesis and Balaguero helming the forthcoming Apocalipsis. And while Génesis doesn’t live up to the first two films, with a couple of exceptions, Plaza has given us a pretty darn good horror-comedy here.
Plot: it’s Clara (Man Push Cart‘s Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Paper Birds‘ Diego Martìn)’s wedding day. Which, unfortunately, happens to be the day the first [REC] film takes place; Plaza establishes the film’s timeline early on (Koldo is talking to his uncle, who’s Patient Zero for this movie, and the uncle is nursing a wound on his hand; he mentions he was bitten by a very strange dog. This is, of course, the dog mentioned in the first film who was taken to the vet before the movie started, and who is the actual “patient zero” for the entire series). The wedding takes place, blah blah blah, we get to the reception, and said uncle, after taking a swan-dive onto a buffet table, reanimates and chows down on another guest just as two other zombies, who we saw on the fringes in earlier shots, come barrelling through the screen showing the formerly-happy couple’s photo slideshow and proceeding to massacre most of the guests. Clara and Koldo are separated; Koldo finds himself part of a group containing a music-industry spy, his teenaged niece, and one of his friends, while Clara teams up with Koldo’s best bud, an old friend of hers from France with whom said best bud had hooked up during the reception, and Spongejohn, an entertainer hired to keep the kiddies occupied while the adults were drinking and dancing. The two groups attempt to survive the attack in different ways, while Clara and Koldo, each unaware the other is still alive save at certain points, try to find their way back to one another.
There are a few places where the movie gets downright ridiculous. Even if you go into it expecting a stupid horror-comedy (and most people didn’t, at least if they’d seen the first two movies), there are still places where it’s so over the top that you can’t help but roll your eyes and groan. It’s possible to do over-the-top well; my mother, who never liked horror movies, watched the original Dawn of the Dead with me at least half a dozen times, and she once posited that the reason she could watch that but could never stomach, say, The Exorcist was because the gore was so campy you just knew it wasn’t real. But it’s undeniable that Dawn of the Dead is an effective, and very successful, horror film that contains comedy elements. (The scene with the biker and the blood-pressure machine is, for my money, one of the single funniest moments in horror-film history.) This can’t tell at times whether it’s a horror film or a stupid comedy, and it suffers for that.
On the other hand, the climax of the film—about which I obviously can’t say anything without being spoilery—still manages to be affecting, affirming, and oddly uplifting, so I can’t really call the movie a failure; it gets there by a very twisted path (there are a few scenes that I would swear were lifted straight out of Quarantine 2, the godawful DTV sequel to the American remake of [REC]…which I can’t believe Paco Plaza actually sat down and watched), but it does get there. I’m not quite sure how, but it does. Is Génesis a good movie? Not really. But it’s a fun movie, and stupidly watchable, and if you ignore the movie’s one massive series plothole (which you won’t even notice if you haven’t seen the first movie—it was obviously tossed in to pacify series fans…and it’s ended up having the opposite effect) and just go with the dumb, you’ll have a good time with it. ** ½
Can you say “red band”? I knew you could. Which is good, because you ain’t saying much else in this trailer ‘less you know Spanish.