October 30, 2012

[REC] 3 (Review) - Toronto After Dark

[REC] 3: GENESIS (2012)

*Toronto Premiere*

Director: Paco Plaza

4.5 / 5 zedheads

Just when I thought [REC] 2 was out of ideas, here comes a beautiful, blood-splattered bride with a chainsaw to carve new life into the Spanish demon/zombie franchise.  

Bringing more gore, more romance, more humour, more action, and much, much needed "cinematic quality" it's the perfect wedding of horror and entertainment.

Exuberantly macabre and completely satisfying, [REC] 3: Genesis easily claims the title as best installment in the series to date. Under director Paco Plaza, [REC] 3 saves the series from being a  footnote in the history of found footage horror films by launching [REC] 3 as one of the most entertaining zombie movies in recent memory.
Wedding guests can be such a pain!
 In [REC] 3, the demonic zombie infection of the first two films escapes the confines of the apartment complex and makes its way to the wedding of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martín). Not only do Leticia Dolera's smokey eyes and porcelain complexion in [REC] 3 make her one of the most radiant leading ladies in zombiemoviedom, but she and Diego Martín are instantly lovable (despite little character development) as the star-crossed lovers who become separated from each other after their wedding party turns into a massacre. When the infection rips through their guest list, transforming friends and family into violent monsters, they go in search of each other and a way to escape.
Gratuitous Leticia Dolera Worship Photo #1
Despite my fondness for [REC], Paco Plaza makes a bold and much-needed move to break away from the POV camera style that defined the first film and its sequel. Although POV footage is used to establish the movie's introductory scenes, Plaza breaks from the POV by figuratively breaking the camera on screen, which suddenly thrusts the audience into a rich, cinematic third-person camera perspective. Now we can see the movie going on beyond the lens of the hand-held recorder, and how sweet it is to finally put all the dark, grainy, shaky cam rubbish to bed. With this one gesture, Plaza brings the audience into a new experience complete with lush colours, moody lighting, and elaborate zombie kills chock-a-block with gore. We are also introduced to the most beautiful blood-splattered bride in movie history.

Gratuitous Leticia Dolera Worship Photo #2
 Made in Spain, the series continues to weave Catholic elements into the zombie genre, but Paco Plaza must have struck his own deal with the devil to make [REC] 3 so nearly perfect. For horror fans, there's something for everyone in [REC] 3, yet it never feels watered down or as if its pandering by rehashing elements from the previous films. Unlike other movie franchises, you don't have to see [REC] or [REC] 2 to fully enjoy [REC] 3, but the experience is only enriched if you do.

Two words: Garter & Chainsaw
Sure, [REC] 3 isn't strikingly original. It plays to the standard expectations of the modern zombie movie with all the requisite corny moments and predictable plot points (especially since it's something of a love story). At the same time, however, [REC] 3 is very aware of its own exploitative indulgences -- sometimes winking to the audience to buy itself a pass -- but it never deviates from its commitment to the premise or its commitment to bringing sheer Spanish-splatter entertainment to the screen. When it's corny or pushing at the boundaries of plausibility, it manages to buy those corny moments and leaps of logic by dropping non-stop awesomeness! It's funny, it's sad, it's scary, it's exhilarating -- I haven't been this excited after a zombie film since seeing the original Return of the Living Dead for the first time.

Gratuitous Leticia Dolera Worship Photo #3
I'm happy to report that the [REC] series has some much-needed legs to carry it to its conclusion -- [REC] 4: Apocalypse -- which is already in the works. Let's just hope they leave the POV style behind for good.


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