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Sunday, 21 April 2013


REC 3: GENESIS [2012] is an excellent film, but that's not the word I would actually use to describe it. 'Gleeful' is the word. REC 3 is a gleeful film.

I haven't seen a trilogy of [horror] films that managed to not only maintain but build upon the energy of the previous entries into the franchise since RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (or, all right let's get the reference in cos it's popular at the moment, EVIL DEAD). Let's pretend for a moment that there aren't plans for a REC 4 so as not to spoil where I'm going with this.

REC took place in an apartment block as a zombie outbreak took hold. REC 2 either takes place at the same time or directly after (I can't remember which) but it flowed wonderfully. It also revealed that the 'infected' were actually possessed. Nice little curveball there. REC 3 carries on this idea and plays with it in an organic manner - the infected can't enter churches, are burned by holy water, and don't like Bible quotes. And it's lucky this is the case, since REC 3 takes place at a wedding reception.

The happy couple, moments before the shit hits the fan - or rather, the uncle hits the table.

Koldo and Clara are in love. We know this thanks to one of the best film intros I have ever seen - the film starts as if we've just loaded up their wedding day DVD, before cutting to 'live' filming from the big day itself. But, just as things appear to be settling into a (well done) 'found footage' groove, BANG! a drunk uncle falls off a balcony, things go mental, and we're hit with the title card. 20 minutes into the film. Bravo. The transition from cinéma vérité to normal film is a little jarring at first, but the film soon finds its feet. And when it does, it does not stop running.

Always remember to brush twice a day.
REC 3 asserts itself with an absurd enthusiasm that reminded me of 80s horror films [although to be fair, lots of things remind me of 80s horror films. Going to shops can remind me of 80s horror films] but particularly DEMONS 2. But whereas that film doesn't quite seem aware at its mentalness/can't maintain a level tone, REC 3 is and can. At one point Koldo's wandering about in a suit of armour, for one thing. Then, Clara gets hold of a chainsaw...it's from about the halfway mark that the film really earns the gleeful descriptor, as some of the kills are violently over-the-top in a manner reminiscent of oh hell let's namecheck another cult favourite: BRAINDEAD aka DEAD ALIVE.

It's important to note REC 3 isn't scary. Perhaps this is the price of progress, for if the film repeated the tone of the first film (which really shit me up in places) it wouldn't have the same impact. Arguable, of course, but taking a full-on marathon of a film like REC 3 and sticking spooky bits in would undoubtedly feel shoehorned in, as a way to pay homage to previous entries (REC 2 has one well done scary bit that is only tempered by its closeness to the first film's standout scare), not to mention drag down the pace and overall feel of the movie.

But it's not just the sheer energy that makes REC 3 so goshdarn brilliant. The leads feel natural, whether they're (in the case of Clara, especially) portraying doe-eyed love or wide-eyed terror. Damn, if that girl hasn't got the sort of eyes a guy could drown in.

The editing is tight and only confusing when it's clearly meant to be (re: the initial panic right before the title), the sound design is top notch, from the unearthly guttural roars of the infected to the cheesy wedding tunes that soundtrack the horror in a nice juxtaposition. The script feels tight and polished - for instance, every set-up has a punchline, even things you didn't realise were a set-up (hello, Grandad!). It also engenders a true sense of fear, in so much as horror is the true inability to do something eg being forced to watch a tragedy unfold beyond your reach. There are moments in REC 3 where the filmmakers are clearly telling you, the audience, that "Nobody is safe", no matter how much you might hope this to be the case.

I, personally, would rather take this type of horror over jump scares and musical stings any time of the day. Or night. It's weirdly more realistic and believable. How often do we find ourselves in a situation where our loved ones are in danger but we are literally powerless to act? With any luck, many of us will never encounter this sort of situation, but it does happen, because that's life. We're not truly scared of the masked maniac jumping out of the shadows with a machete as that is implausible; it's the terrorist who detonates a bomb without warning that terrifies us, because we can't do anything about it.

I may be belabouring the point a little, as well as undermining my previous point that REC 3 isn't scary. What I should probably have said is that it isn't Hollywood scary. But, sometimes all we want is a good fake scare. A good movie scare, because after all, if it gets too much, we can just turn it off, right?