It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before, and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born.

For the curious, here are links to 2008, 2009 (a bad year), 2010, 2011, 2012 (when we left the blog behind), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

The final two films in the [Rec] franchise allow for each of the directors to give their own spin on the demonic zombie apocalypse after teaming up to direct the first two installments. [Rec] 3: Genesis sees Paco Plaza taking the solo reins with a screenplay by Plaza and Luiso Berdejo (the co-writer of the first film).

This movie gets a lot of grief from [Rec] fans for breaking away from the story of the first two films and abandoning the found footage conceit fairly early into its run time. But those fans are big babies and need to go cry to mamma. [Rec] 3: Genesis is a helluva zombie movie on its own terms and a welcome change of pace that not only expands the [Rec] universe (the [Rec]iverse?)  but allows Plaza to shine and show what he’s capable of outside of the constraints of the found footage horror genre.

The opening sequence of this film demonstrate without a shadow of a doubt that he’s mastered found footage. The wedding scenario that sets up this story is initially told from the perspective of a teen family member documenting the wedding for the family and the professional cameraman also filming the wedding. They team up to make sure that they get great coverage of the big event and also get slices of personal moments where the professional can’t get access.

It’s a great setup and the footage from the wedding could be a real wedding. This is not only due to the filming, but the performances of everybody involved are so naturalistic that at times I forgot that this was all staged for the film. It’s brilliant.

Then a veterinarian uncle shows up with a dog bite and we know something bad is going to happen. And when it does, shit gets crazy and the movie switches to a traditional third-person approach after the groom, Koldo (Diego Martín) asks why they’re still filming and smashes the camera.

It’s a clever way of addressing the issue in-narrative that works really well for me.

Our main characters are the newlyweds, Koldo and Clara (Leticia Dolera), and they are immediately separated, allowing us to follow two different narratives as they search for each other while trying to survive a demonic zombie outbreak. There’s a surprising amount of humor to be found in this movie, especially given the nightmarish horror that’s come before, but Plaza shows a deft hand at balancing the absurd with the grotesque.

I mean, how many other zombie films are going to have a guy dressed like a knock-off Spongebob (who can’t take his costume off because he’s not wearing anything underneath) taking out a zombie or two with immaculate headshots?

How many other zombie films are we going to get a potential scare scene of a zombie feasting, only to find out it’s a couple getting intimate with some mouth-to-genital action. It is a wedding after all. People are getting laid.

We even get a nod to the Blind Dead as Koldo gets armored up from a St. George reliquary. I know, St. George wasn’t a Templar but come on. If a Spanish zombie film where a dude puts on a knight’s armor isn’t a reference then I’ll eat my hat (note: I do not have a hat and will not eat one, even if I’m proven wrong).

Granted, the film doesn’t really break new ground, but it is solid at what it does. Clara gets a bad-ass hero arc, complete with chainsaw battle against the undead and the ending goes dark hard. Romantic, but dark. And the demonic possession element is central to the storyline and allows for an ending that we wouldn’t ordinarily get in a traditional zombie film.

All in all, I like [Rec] 3: Genesis. It’s not the best in the series but is still a high-quality zombie film that breaks from some of the cliches of the genre and gives us strong performances, great gore, and the potential to expand the [Rec]iverse in any number of ways moving forward.

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