Saturday, 4 August 2012

[●REC]3 Genesis

[REC] 2008 was a delightful surprise when it was released in the UK. It was a cinematic example of the little engine that could. Ie it was a small film – in this case foreign – that arrived with little to no fanfare but delivered to the genre what the fan thirsts for: horror. The pronouncement of a sequel came as no surprise. One can argue that a successful 21st century horror film without a sequel is the result of irresponsible producers1.

1 There is a narrative clause: The Sixth Sense 1999 and The Others 2001 do not have sequels. To its shame The Woman in Black 2012 has a sequel announced.
[REC]2 2010 had the year’s2 best opening weekend for a domestic film in its native Spain3. It continues the plot of the original and except for one narrative hiccup it is a satisfactory compliment to [REC]. However, that hiccup was a signpost denoting the limitation of the narrative. The Godfather Part 2 1974 complimented The Godfather 1972 and completed the story. The Godfather Part 3 1990 was excess. When it was announced there would be not only a third but also a fourth [REC] film4 surprise was tempered with dismay.

2 [REC]2 was released in Spain in 2009. All films on this blog are referenced by their UK and/or US release date – whichever came first. Thrill Fiction primarily serves the Anglo/American audience. Thus if a film is not available in a particular year it is redundant to list it as such. Other websites list the year of production (eg IMDB) or year of world premiere (eg Bonjour Tristesse).
A film series usually concludes at three (the Star Wars trilogies, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight5, George A Romero’s the Dead trilogy). Those that don’t (the good) are usually based on source material ( James Bond, Harry Potter). There is the bad (Friday the 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser). There is the ugly (Saw, Underworld, Pumpkinhead). To announce a fourth film before the filming of the third is presumptuous to the point of arrogance. Director Robert Zemekis simultaneously filmed Back to the Future 2 1989 and 3 1990. He got away with it because both films were good. The Wachowskis simultaneously shot The Matrix Reload 2003 and The Matrix Revolutions 2003. Their careers have been in freefall ever since.

The world is fascinated by twins. There is also an industry fascination with director pairings. Media always wants to know who does what6. The Coen brothers directed No Country For Old Men 2007. The Hughes (twin) Brothers directed The Book of Eli 2010. Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro directed The City of Lost Children 1995. Left to his own devices Jeunet directed Alien: Resurrection 1997 and destroyed a franchise.

[REC] and [REC]2 were written and directed by Jamue Balagueró and Paco Plaza. When the two sequels were announced it was gushed that the pairing would split: each director would helm their own unique vision to bring the franchise to a close4. Left to his own devices Plaza directed [REC]3 Genesis.
Despite the subtitle (and previous press release4) [REC]3 is neither prequel nor origin story. The biblical reference is a bludgeon of a plot point. It is a cheat. Such is the tenor of the whole film. Plaza shares screenplay credit with one Luiso Beredejo. The two of them have plotted a story with more holes than President Clinton’s impeachment deposition7.

The [REC] franchise is hitherto famous for its unrelenting fast zombies. [REC]3 has fast and inexplicable slow zombies. Logic be damned; the film can brag of being the first to have both subspecies. It can boast of having an amputation that’s treated like a paper cut. Everyone who has ever watched a Straight-to-DVD or Syfy Original is familiar with the ‘victim’s final testimony’: the neck drops and the eyes close and either the actor is playing dead or has ran out of lines. In a TV series said testimony may be valuable information. In [REC]3 it is neither valuable nor informative. This film is evidence that Jamue Balagueró wrote [REC] and [REC] 2 on his own.
Leticia Dolera [REC]3 and Manuela Velasco [REC]
The Americans created the movie star because they understood at the beginning of the industry that the masses flock to see beauty and charisma. This paradigm has worked so much so that their political establishment uses it to select Presidents. The lead and love interest in [REC]3 lack (beauty and) charisma. This film lacks Manuela Velasco.

There is a moment of innovation in [REC]3. It recalls the device used in Stanley Kramer’s Judgement at Nuremberg 1961 to transcend from subtitles to spoken English.  [REC]3 begins as found footage in continuation of the previous films. Plaza uses a deft transition to turn the film into the traditional single camera setup.

When an artist has too much latitude his name is M. Night Shyamalan. [REC]3 is the excess of bloated success. Paco Plaza has thrown away the rules of common sense storytelling and revealed himself to be a fanboy. Jerry Bruckheimer separated from Don Simpson before the latter’s death. Jamue Balagueró has one shot to return the [REC] franchise to the horror it once was. He can use [REC]4 Apocalypse to permanently separate himself and become Beyoncé to Plaza’s Kelly Rowland.

Horror needs a new Maestro.
[REC]3 was released on 3rd August in the US via Video-On-Demand. It opens in theatres on 3rd September. It is released 24th Aug in UK cinemas and on DVD/Blu-Ray 3rd September.
Read more Thrill Fiction: La Casa Muda
3 [REC]2 tops Spanish box office THR
5 The Dark Knight Rises review
6 co-directors The Huffington Post
7 President Clinton Youtube
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