[REC] Genesis

Fuck my granddad and his stupid fucking hearing aid!

Year Released : 2012rec3
Directors : Paco Plaza
Cast : Leticia Dolera, Diego Martín, Ismael Martínez, Àlex Monner and Borja Glez Santaolalla

As you have probably guessed from my reviews for the first two films in the [REC] franchise, they are amongst my favourite horror films and they were just one decent addition away from having one of the best trilogies in the horror genre.

[REC] Genesis is a complete departure from what made the first two films so enjoyable and successful, and whilst it would not have been awful on it’s own merits, it will always be compared to the first two films and in that sense it fails miserably to complete what would have been a near perfect trilogy of films.

It is so incredibly disappointing to have two of my favourite horror films followed up by something that doesn’t do them justice and I can only hope that the fourth installment, which is also scheduled to be the last, makes up for an installment in the franchise that has very few links to the others.

PLOT

Family and friends have gathered for the wedding of Clara (Dolera) and Koldo (Martín). The beautiful occasion is an extravagant celebration of their love and all is well until Koldo’s uncle falls from a balcony after seemingly having far too much to drink.

As family members help him up, he suddenly violently attacks other members of the family and they themselves start attacking others. Koldo and Clara are separated but are determined to find each other.

The numbers of infected increase to the point where very few are left, but has one of the survivors found a method of keeping them at bay for good and more importantly, will it be too late to save those that are left?

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That doesn’t sound too bad…..

There are two ways that I could review this. I could review it as a stand alone film and treat it like it isn’t part of the [REC] series, for which I think it would have been more enjoyable, or I could go with comparing it to the predecessors in the series. Ultimately, as it sports the [REC] name I have very little choice but to review it compared to the other films in the series and because of this, it’s very hard to review it positively.

Well where to begin? Let’s start in the easiest place and that’s right at the beginning where you are literally thrown into a slideshow of the newly married couple during their childhoods with a happy, romantic song playing in the background. Within the first 30 seconds they have already started to alienate the fans of the first two films and that’s a theme that continues throughout the entirety of the film, gradually becoming more of a stand alone movie as it goes on rather than part of a trilogy.

Infact, the scene where they switch over from 1st to 3rd person perspective it’s painfully obvious that they have tried to make it as symbolic as possible as one of the cameras is destroy, the screen goes black for the title screen (around 20 minutes into the movie) and then it switches to 3rd person and shows the recording light slowly stop flashing. It’s obviously meant to be a symbolic representation of the changing in presentation and perspective, but felt more cheesey than anything else.

At the point people would have realised it had switched to 3rd person and just like a normal horror film, I imagine that’s when a lot of people suddenly lost a lot of interest. When I first watched it I had no idea that it wasn’t all found footage so it took me very much by surprise. At the time of writing [REC] Genesis has a rating of 5.1/10 compared to ratings of 7.5 for the first and a still very respectable 6.6 for the sequel. Both of those scores, especially the first, are excellent for a horror film, and the lower ranking for Genesis is down to several factors, but taking it away from first person and the found footage style did the film no favours whatsoever.

One of the best aspects of the first two [REC] films is that they were showing ENTIRELY in the found footage perspective, and although [REC] Genesis stars in the same style, it soon completely abandons that style and switches to the generic third person view that you see in virtually every other horror film. It abandons one of the main reasons that the first two films were successful and I can’t think of a single good reason for it.

It is one of many strange decisions during the entire film and you’re sat there as it’s going on and if it wasn’t for the title you wouldn’t even know that this was in the same series of films as the first two. There is virtually no relationship between the films at all with the exception that for a very brief moment they show the news being broadcast live from the apartment building of the first two.

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A major problem and arguably the main reason I found it extremely hard to take this film seriously is that some of the infected SMILE or have a stupid look on their face throughout. The first character to become infected, Koldo’s uncle, walks around, even after he has turned, with a weird look on his face, almost like someone who is stoned and is just sat there imagining something pleasant. It’s hard to take the character seriously and in all honesty the infected don’t seem anyway near as threatening as in the first two films.

Or how about when Clara and another guest are being chased in a tunnel but the infected before Clara, complete with a chainsaw, decides to fight them and a dance track is played in the background. Just no.

I had mentioned in the review of [REC] that one of the reasons it worked well was the lack of a soundtrack as it added to the tension, but they have again abandoned this and included music throughout. Now, don’t get me wrong, it takes place at a wedding so I can forgive having music during the wedding celebrations, however, it then starts playing music at various points to add dramatic effect, such as when Clara is walking down a tunnel with a chainsaw and there is a very loud and lyrical song accompanying it. It wasn’t really needed and took a lot of the horror aspect away from the film.

Sound issues throughout continue to make the film less and less like the first two. In the first two films there was no jump-scare sound played when an infected person appears out of nowhere, but this film is full of them and as I mentioned in the [REC] review, you’re reacting more to the sound rather than the actual emergence of an enemy.

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I must say that I am also puzzled with the subtitle of Genesis. For a film with such a heavy religious theme to it as it progresses, it’s amazing that they don’t seem to understand what the word genesis actually means. Just for the benefit of the filmmakers, here is the definition

genesis
noun
the origin or mode of formation of something.
“this tale had its genesis in fireside stories”

Now, from the subtitle it would have you believe that in this you find out what exactly where the infection started, or it takes place before the events of the first two films, but neither is the case. It doesn’t reveal the origins of the virus and as it shows a news report being broadcast live from the apartment building from the first film, you know it doesn’t take place before hand. Even with the religious tone it doesn’t explain the title genesis as the chapter of Genesis from the bible talks about the creationist views of the start of life, and the ONLY reference throughout to Genesis is when the priest starts reading the bible over the tannoy to hold off the infected, but I seriously doubt that it why the film has the subtitle of Genesis.

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Character development is precisely zero and you’re somehow expected to care for characters despite not knowing anything about them. For example, one ofs the wedding guests admits to Carla that she wasn’t sure whether to come to the wedding or not right before she died. Is that supposed to mean something? Am I supposed to care? I really don’t. This is the only thing we get to know about the character so how can I really be expected to give a crap about them?

Infact, it’s almost impossible to like any of the characters because most are very one-dimensional and I’ll be honest, there wasn’t once where I thought it would be worthwhile seeing Carla and Koldo find each other, probably not helped by a lack of chemistry between the two on screen.

At one point Clara is confronted by her infected mother and this is one of the finest examples I can think of, other than the film’s switch from 1st to 3rd person, of the film being significantly different to the first two films. The behaviour of the infected is completely different, they move differently and significantly slower, and seem to stand there waiting for the character to notice them before they try and attack.

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The infected mother just stands there (smiling might I add) staring at Clara for a long time, a lot of which is when Clara is looking in a different direction, and yet she makes virtually no attempt to attack. It’s almost as if the infected have switched from a non-stop threat to a more teasing method of attack. Now, in the first two the infected do disappear for long periods of time so it’s no inconceivable that they use tactics to gain the advantage over their victims, but for them to just stand watching in plain sight isn’t really as enjoyable.

 

Now, this isn’t to say that the film isn’t without some entertaining and interesting parts, such as when a lot of the characters, including children,  try and take safety in hiding on a nearby coach, only for one of the infected to stop the door from closing at the very last second, meaning that all within are doomed as there isn’t a clear exit. Whilst a good scene, it could have definitely been improved if it was in first person perspective and showed you what was happening from the inside of the coach, but either way it’s probably the most enjoyable mini-section of the film once it switches to the third person perspective.

Another aspect that I think sort of works, but also doesn’t at the same time is that the characters in this film knew each other before the setting of the film, meaning that they have a more emotional connection to the infected and you can see it in their faces that they are not only scared, but also extremely upset with what is happening to their friends and family. Now, I say that it works and it doesn’t at the same time, and the reason I say that is because, as mentioned in the review for the first film, the characters develop a “survival of the fittest” style attitude and brings a more realistic human element to how you would treat others in a situation where you don’t know people. Both have their own merits, I preferred the “survival of the fittest” aspect from the first, but there is nothing wrong with the friends/family aspects in Genesis.

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Summary

As a stand alone film this wouldn’t have actually been too bad, I probably would have respected it more, as would fans of the first two, but it’s impossible not to compare this to the first two films and there is no doubt whatsoever that this is the weak link in the series (without having seen the fourth film yet).

Whilst it doesn’t quite ruin the series, I can’t help but feel than this would have been one of the truly great horror trilogies if they had just made a better third film.

I’ve seen far worse horror films from mainstream Hollywood in recent years so in that sense it’s still not a truly awful film, but it just loses too much of what made the first two films great and when you take into account that the fourth film will return to the character of Angela, it really does make you wonder why this was made in the first place.

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