Goodness me, is it October already? That means it's time for the October Horror Movie Challenge once again. Last year I managed to get halfway through the month before it all went pear-shaped; let's see if I can beat that record this year. And of course, we'll continue the tradition of the previous two years by starting the month off with the next movie in the [rec] series - [rec]: Genesis.
Clara and Koldo are getting married, and today is their wedding day. The wedding goes off without any problems; however, Koldo's uncle was bitten by a certain dog at the vet's clinic where he works the day before - the dog being the one from the apartment building where the "demonic rabies" outbreak of the previous two films took place. At the wedding reception, taking place at a large country estate, the uncle starts to show symptoms of being infected and attacks the other guests, infecting them in turn and causing a panic on the dancefloor. At the same time, the police and the GEO arrive to put the estate into quarantine. The newlyweds Clara and Koldo, and a rapidly-dwindling group of survivors have to fight to survive the night and make sure that they do not become infected so that they can escape the quarantine...
[rec]: Genesis starts off in the familiar found-footage, cinema verite style of the previous two movies (and it even references the latter description), with the footage being shot by the wedding photographer and Koldo's cousin Adrian. However, 22 minutes into the film, when one of the filming characters is asked what he is doing and gives the stock answer of (paraphrased), "I'm filming everything so that people will know what happened here," the camera is promptly smashed and the rest of the film - aside from some CCTV shots - proceeds in the more traditional third-person perspective. I guess I understand why this was done - by 2012 found-footage was starting to lose a lot of its allure, and its very nature limits how many characters the film can focus on (they all have to be with the person doing the filming), and I guess I get why the film starts off making us think it's going to be found-footage like the previous two films before swerving and switching to third-person with a sly little dig at the genre to boot... but I can't say I like it (nor am I the only one with this opinion). The previous two [rec] films were so successful and extremely tense because of the first-person perspective - we didn't know what was happening elsewhere, or even behind us because all we had was the camera to show us. A "God's-Eye" view takes much of that away. Not to mention that the first [rec] gave the found-footage genre a much-needed jolt of adrenaline when it seriously needed it. To disregard something the series was known for seems counter-productive, at least.
Another problem that [rec]: Genesis has is a wildly inconsistent tone. Sometimes it's a straight-up zombie/infected/viral possession splattery horror, sometimes it's a horror-comedy and a couple of times it's even a rom-com. Now, at any film set at a wedding you expect there to be some elements of romance, and despite the fact that the only rom-coms I've ever actually enjoyed were Shaun of the Dead and Bridget Jones' Diary I'm certainly not hating on the genre (and Clara and Koldo are a pretty kick-ass couple), but I found the switch between these themes felt awkward and jarring, not to mention lessening the impact of the film's actual horror moments. Oh, the French girl is light-heartedly called a slut for hooking up with another wedding guest! Please stop making me laugh, my heart can barely take it.
The religious themes of the previous films are back again, continuing the idea of a demonic possession that is passed on via physical infection, and they form a few key points in the film - one of which is actually one of the better moments in the film. At one point a large mirror reveals that several of the "infected" all have the reflection of "Patient Zero", Tristana Medeiros, and while it's only brief it's quite the striking and effective shot. Slightly less effective is the scene where a group of survivors discover that the infected cannot enter the old chapel on the estate grounds, and someone mentions that they also cannot stand holy water being thrown on them. Now I admit that I've never been in a situation that would necessitate it, but I can't see myself throwing holy water on zombies just on the off chance that they might not like it, not unless I knew more of what was going on than I should have. And despite having this sanctuary that the infected can't get into, they decide to leave it anyway. Sigh.
One of the key images of [rec]: Genesis is of a woman (Clara) in a torn and bloodstained wedding dress wielding a chainsaw, and while it is a pretty cool image. I almost get the idea that the image might have been conceived of first and then the rest of the film built around it. Combine that with one or two other moments in the film (spoiler: someone has to chainsaw their arm off after being bitten), and I can't help but wonder if Evil Dead 2 was in the filmmakers' minds as well while they were making the film.
In the end, [rec]: Genesis does an adequate job of being a parallel story to the events of [rec] and [rec]2, and of filling in more of the mythology of the infected... but it's not as good as the previous two films. It's not as tense, not as innovative, not as attention-grabbing. We'll have to wait until next year though to see if [rec]: Apocalypse can bring any of that back to the series.