The cold days of Autumn are well and truly upon us… and that can mean only one thing here at the ol’ Litterbox…. Halloween will soon be here and with it our old friends the Zombies shambling close behind. Given that, it’s time to get us all ready for the “Zombie Apocalypse” a wee bit early with a quick review of the latest Spanish horror offering in the genre, “[REC]³:Génesis”. Just to get us all in the proper mood, mind you, Hehehehe!!
Our synopsis goes like this: “Koldo and Clara are about to celebrate the most important day of their lives: their wedding. Everything appears to be running smoothly, and the bride, the groom and their families are enjoying a wonderful day in the countryside… until some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Before they know what’s happening, the bride and groom find themselves in the middle of a hellish ordeal, as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on the wedding. What started off as an idyllic day quickly descends into a nightmare of the worst kind.”
The first two offerings in this horror franchise were right up this wee lady’s alley, and so when this one finally came available on Region 2 DVD it didn’t take tooooo darn much to convince this Catgirl it was definitely as “must have”. So… if you, like a certain Zombie crazy Catgirl, just love these sorts of goofy horror goodies you’ll probably be chomping at the bit to read all about it for yourself…. So don’t just stand there silly… C’mon!! 😉
Now…. before we get going, it has to be said that your favorite Catgirl is really not the biggest fan of the “found footage” style of horror, and basically the [REC] series is all about that in a serious way. So… how did these manage to make me a fan? By being the absolute top of the heap of such efforts… and by understanding that although you want to use all the tricks to convince us of the “authenticity” of the footage, you have to remember that you are, first and foremost, telling a story in a visual medium… one that requires an audience to actually be able to see what the heck is going on most of the time. That’s where most of these sorts of films fall flat. Sure…. all the crackling static and grainy looking “damaged” footage shot by agitated people who film things like they have a couple of rabid squirrels in their undies…. it sure does help to hide the “monster/ ghost/ killer” from being seen too easily…. and it does force the viewer’s imagination to fill in the blanks, but a little of that goes a long way towards building suspense… and a lot of it just builds eyestrain and headaches. The first two [REC] films balanced these things almost perfectly. Given that…. I was fairly certain they’d pull it off again. And I was right…..
Surprisingly… this time out… we get all that ever so “art-school-y” “Cinéma vérité” style out of the way fairly quickly in the form of a number of those amateur wedding movies combined with the much smoother work of the ceremony’s professional photographer. Eventually when our good friends, the zombies, make their appearance, the camera gets broken and [REC] 3 morphs into a regular zombie cinema experience…. a welcome shift in this girl’s opinion, that takes our story in a more easily enjoyed direction, sans the nauseating eyestrain I usually have to put up with for the sake of cool zombie cinema. 😉
After the first couple of minutes we have all the basic stuff we’ll need to know down pat. Koldo and Clara love each other. They really, really love each other…. They have a nice couple of families… each with the requisite “colorful characters” you’d expect to be along for the fun: the grandpa with the hearing aid who is still as deaf as a post…. the delinquent “all boys club” that Koldo ran with in his bachelor days complete with a slick womanizing best buddy named Rafa (played by Ismael Martínez)… and of course Clara’s sweet little sister Tita and her sexy best friend from college, french siren Natalie (played by Claire Baschet). Ahhhh… and Uncle Pepe … the one who arrives with that suspicious dog bite…. the one he got at the veterinary clinic from that dog he could have swore was dead. (We’ll be keepin’ an eye on him….. Oh yeah…) Yep…. Just throw in her cousin Adrián, the wedding photog Atún and some guy in a sponge costume and you’ve got just enough people to make for a serious body count once the crazy demonic zombies get loose. Oh…. did I mention? Koldo and Clara…. I’m not kidding, they really do love each other… 😉
Yep. That one particular notion forms the centerpiece of this one, and even though they get split up fairly quickly once Uncle Pepe goes all zombie and all Hell starts breaking loose at the reception, the rest of our film follows them as they struggle to find each other among the chaos. Of the two… I’d have to say that Clara (played by Leticia Dolera) is the more interesting and compelling of the two. She starts our film as a shy, lovestruck young lady who’s dream wedding descends into a horrific bloodbath to a strong, determined woman willing to do whatever it takes to be reunited with her soul mate. Her new husband Koldo (played by Diego Martín) on the other hand, while competently played, still pales in comparison to the feisty Clara. Isn’t that always the way? 🙂
Basically we get pretty much what you might expect if you’ve seen the earlier films in the series and nothing much new. Our zombies… well they are still the results of that weird “demonic infection” you saw in the first two movies. Yep… all the victims become part of that evil hive mind inhabiting the body of Niña Medeiros… that crazy demon woman locked away in the apartment waaaaay on the other side of Barcelona. How do we know? Well throughout the film, every time you see one of our zombies in a mirror or reflected in a surface, you don’t see them…. you see the albino thing that is Niña Medeiros instead. Of course our protagonists don’t know any of that…. and you just know that’s going to end up getting them killed.
Still… even with no real advancing of that plot, you don’t really need any prompting to get what’s going on. “[REC]³:Génesis” prefers to just wing it and go for the zombie fun and games. Yeah, yeah… we do get a handy priest character, the one who married our heroes, who finds that the “demon zombies” are vulnerable to holy water, won’t enter the chapel next to the reception hall, and can be mesmerized…. frozen in place…. if he recites scripture. Should be really helpful, right? Ummmm… yeah…. not so much so.
One by one, our cast gets whittled down as Koldo and Clara struggle to reunite. Some in particularly gruesome ways like poor Uncle Pepe (Trust me… this cook always though immersion blenders were dangerous…)… others off screen (like Clara’s Mom) or only seen at a distance (like Clara’s cousin and little sister). There’s even time for a wee bit of grim humor now and again amid the carnage. Of particular note is the poor entertainer “John Sponge” aka “Definitely Not Spongebob” trapped in his giant clumsy foam costume by a gang of flesh eating dead…. not the most efficient combat wear for the Zombie Apocalypse I can tell you. 😉
So, eventually you just know our plucky chainsaw wielding heroine will find her way back to her love, but will they both survive? It’s not for this wee Catgirl to spoil things for you, but…. errrr…. ummmm…. you did see the first two movies, right?
So… what’s the final impressions yours truly was left with? Well, while viewed as a continuation of the story from the earlier movies, I’d have to say this one serves only as a small “side trip” to the saga. We actually learn nothing new to advance our understanding of the films as a whole, and the tone of this one is much different than it’s predecessors, having less of that amateur “patchwork” look and more of a standard movie narrative experience. Seen on it’s own, it stands up pretty well as just a good little stand alone zombie thriller…. although even Carolyn had a few moments of déjà vu when it started and she said, “Ummm? Miyu…? Sweetie? Didn’t we already see a Zombie Wedding movie?”
Yes… yes we did. 2010’s Turkish horror, “Ada Zombilerin Düğünü”. Also a “found footage” horror film….. (Will coincidences never end?) Funny to finally see somebody steal a movie plot from the Turks for a change rather than the other way around, Hehehehe!! The similarities are amazing, and I’m wondering if the Spanish had even been aware of it. However, where that earlier Turkish film lacked the gore and production values to really sell the idea, I’m happy to say the Spaniards managed to hit things just right this time out.
We really liked this one, Carolyn and I, and I’m happy to say it scores 4 “Meows” out of 5 for me. The UK Region 2 presentation is excellent, preserving the Spanish audio track, and adding excellent English subtitles. There’s also a great “Making of” feature that’s very informative, and actually runs longer than the film itself!! Throw in some outtakes and deleted scenes and it’s a pretty sweet package for a zombie fan lookin’ for a night’s gory movie fun. All for around 15-20$ US from most UK sources.
Yep… before we wrap things up, there’s a Trailer of course… and here it goes!