August 2, 2012
Paco Plaza and Luiso Berdejo
Leticia Dolera as Clara
Diego Martín as Koldo
Àlex Monner as Adrián
Claire Baschet as Natalie
Ismael Martínez as Rafa
Franchises are interesting things. On the one hand, they develop rabid fanbases who are dying for the next installment and who cosplay as their favorite characters. On the other… they’re not exactly known for risk-taking within themselves. Think about it: the basic idea of aHalloween movie or a Friday the 13th movie generally hasn’t changed throughout their existence (“Big, usually silent, entity kills folk”). Sure, the Leprechaun franchise has been to Vegas, space, and the Hood (twice!), but the film is always either about him trying to get back his gold or find a mate, and involves him running around killing folk possibly while rhyming. Those times they DO change or take risks (like, say, Halloween III, Halloween 6, Nightmare on Elm Street 2, or Friday the 13th Part V), the initial reaction is usually deep disappointment or confusion that can take years to dissipate while people grow to appreciate them on their own level, if they ever do. That’s, of course, not to say that all sequels are bad…small plot differences usually make them feel fresh enough even if, for example, Freddy is still wandering around killing kids in nightmares. When a franchise does decide to tinker with its formula in a pretty drastic way, though… it kind of stands out.
REC 3: Génesis (directed and partly written by one-half of the franchise’s creators, Paco Plaza, with the other half, Jaume Balagueró, credited as a “creative producer”) tells the story of a happy couple, Clara and Koldo (Leticia Dolera and Diego Martín). They’re preparing with their families and friends for their wedding and reception with the proceedings being filmed primarily by three separate characters and cameras. Everyone seems to be overjoyed, but something seems off as Adrián (Àlex Monner), one of Koldo’s cousins and one of the camerapeople, meets up with his uncle who’s complaining of having been bitten by a dog he thought was dead at his vet practice. As the night goes on, the uncle looks worse and worse until the inevitable occurs. In the ensuing panic, Clara and Koldo get separated and end up with different parties of wedding guests. Will anyone survive the night, and will the happy couple find each other before the zombies find them first?
Speaking of the chemistry between Koldo and Clara, Diego Martín and Leticia Dolera are fantastic, respectively. The rest of the families and characters are well-acted and fleshed-out too, but, as in an actual wedding, it’s all about the couple. When they claim they can both “sense” that the other is still alive, it’s believable. When Koldo desperately searches for a way to safely reach a place he thinks she is, it’s easy to want him to find what he needs. When the duo keeps just barely missing each other, the dramatic irony is palpable and brilliant. Perhaps most indelibly and memorably, though, is the transformation of Clara from simply a wife deeply-terrified while hunting for her husband into a chainsaw-wielding, resourceful, ass-kicking woman hell-bent on reaching the man she loves no matter how many zombies she has to take out to do it. Leticia Dolera absolutely earns her place as the focus of all the film’s posters.
REC 3: Génesis is something that’s becoming ever more rare in the horror genre and moviemaking in general: a franchise film that takes chances and risks. There will be people disappointed that it’s mostly not found-footage and people confused and put off by its comedic elements… that’s a given. However, the found-footage opening is actually the weakest part of the film and the comedy works well in the story Plaza and co-writer Luiso Berdejo are telling and with the great chemistry of the two leads. If all of them felt comfortable enough to take the risks seen in this movie, maybe Horror Freaks should give it a shot too.