This weekend I watched [Rec] 3: Genesis, which has just been made available in the USA on Netflix. The [Rec] series—which horror fans everywhere have decreed shall be pronounced “wreck” (instead of, say, “recording” or “arr, eee, see”)—is probably the finest zombie film franchise of the 21st century. (I’d put the previous two films up against Zombieland and The Horde for best zombie movie made after 1999.) Needless to say, I was excited to view this latest installment.
Set in contemporary Spain and shot in Spanish with English subtitles, [Rec] 3 continues the device of using “found” video footage to tell the story. In this case, we see the opening action unfold through the lenses of people filming a wedding. However, unlike the previous films, this device is eventually dropped in favor of a traditional, third person camera perspective.
The film opens in the moments just before idyllic, upper-class nuptials commence (in what appears to be an estate in rural Spain). However, a wedding guest with a mysterious bite on his arm—that he received the day before from a dog he’d thought was dead—is all we need to send the festivities careening in the direction we all know they need to go. By the time this guest starts vomiting blood and survives a fall that would kill other men, we are well underway.
The film is full of wonderful imagery, and can also impart a rollicking sense of fun. The zombies are some of the best-looking and scariest I have ever seen.
Perhaps the most novel innovation of [Rec] 3 is throwing together the strange selection of people you find at weddings as your zombie outbreak survivor pool. You get the bride and groom, the religious officials, waiters, photographers, elderly relatives, and your college buddies who are there just hoping to get laid. My favorite scene in the entire film might be a “knights vs. zombies” sequence that pairs two unlikely survivors. (When country estates have 15th century armor just lying around, you can’t let it go to waste in a zombie outbreak. [And a round Spanish waiter assisting the heroic groom—both decked out in chainmail and shields—seems almost necessarily to invoke Don Quixote.])
Interestingly, [Rec] 3 also builds on elements of [Rec] 2 that sought to infuse religiosity and Christianity into the zombie outbreak narrative…but without actually explaining very much. At times I found this element intriguing. Other times, however, it felt unnecessary to the plot or like a very cheap “out” used to quickly resolve loose narrative elements. Certainly, the religious aspects—and their direct relationship to the zombies—are never explained to any satisfaction.
Another complaint: There were also times when the music seemed not to compliment the mood of the film. For example, scenes of a bride weaponing-up with a chainsaw should be cause for a yee-haw! kind of feeling. Instead, we get moody emo music that makes it serious and sad. Why on earth should this be the case?
To conclude: Against the other films in the [Rec] series, this is the weakest of the three. That said, it is also still probably one of the ten best zombie films of the 21st century, and might be the best zombie film of 2012. Not necessarily a classic, but a very strong film. Warts and all, I recommend it.