Though it is initially cast from the same found footage mould as the earlier films, [REC]³ is a dramatic departure from the popular Spanish horror franchises’ previously established formula. The filmmakers bravely test the audience with stylistic changes and a misleading title. Génesis isn’t a precursor to the original film, but a very different story which runs parallel to the original.
The director Paco Plaza, who directed each of the REC films, makes it immediately clear that his third film is a very different creature. Génesis begins in typical REC fashion as characters are introduced, camera operators explain why they are filming the footage and a once perfect day is ruined by an outbreak of bloodthirsty infected people. However, after the title sequence rolls the director abandons the approach the horror series has been famed for and opts for a classic third person view. Within this refreshing style Plaza isn’t limited by the restraints of found footage and is able to explore the setting with more ease. This allows for more exciting action set pieces and frightening scenarios.
However, the film separates itself from its predecessors in more ways than just stylistically. Unlike the previous films a potent tongue-in-cheek comedy cuts through the chilling atmosphere. Cheesy incidental music, crass one-liners and genre clichés are brought into the franchise as if the filmmakers are spoofing themselves. Plaza has already made it evident that he is no longer interested in found footage and this less serious approach makes for a really enjoyable sequel.
The filmmakers acknowledge that they cannot abandon everything and bring the special effects and gore from the previous films to ramp up the bloodshed. In keeping with this newly found absurdity the characters fight off the infected with an assortment of weapons from a rusty chainsaw to a stiletto heel.
In separating itself its predecessors [REC]³ becomes a film best taken in its own regard. Plaza embraces cleverness, silliness and genuine scares to provide another entertaining, but very different experience. It’s certainly not as good as the previous films, but it remains stronger than any horror Hollywood has released in the last few years.