I have not seen every zombie movie ever made, but I’m fairly sure there has never been one in which the zombies are stopped dead in their tracks (pardon the pun) simply by reading passages from the Bible. I’m not exactly sure how this works or what it implies, but if it’s this easy to stop an apocalypse of this nature, I say go for it. The sooner word spreads, the sooner the monotony of gory, violent, predictable zombie movies will finally be put to rest (again, pardon the pun). This plot point factors prominently in [REC] 3: Genesis, which Wikipedia tells me is a parallel sequel to the first and second films of the series. I have no idea what a “parallel sequel” is. All I do know is that this new chapter is a continuation of a Spanish horror film from 2007 – which, to the best of my knowledge, was released directly to DVD here in the U.S.
I have not seen the original [REC]. I have, however, seen John Erick Dowdle’s American remake, Quarantine, and from what I’ve read, it’s pretty much the same as the film that inspired it. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it, in part because it was predictable, but mostly because it felt like a very selective rehash of the works of George A. Romero, Daniel Myrick, and Eduardo Sánchez, the latter two being the directors of The Blair Witch Project, one of the earliest and best examples of new-millennium found-footage mockumentaries. Nothing about Quarantine stirred within me a desire to see the story continue, or branch off, or whatever. So it should come as no surprise to you that [REC] 3 did very little for me. The biblical incantations notwithstanding, it felt like so much more of the same old, same old.
But there’s more to it than that. It is, for one thing, a very inconsistent film, freely alternating between serious drama and goofy humor. There are two ways in which the latter presents itself. The first is through over the top gore effects; not only do zombies vomit up blood and bite chunks of flesh out of other people’s necks, there’s also one scene in which they’re sliced to ribbons with a chainsaw. The second is through select passages of dialogue, which I guess were intended to be witty but only came off as bizarre and completely ill-fitting. As several leads try to escape the carnage, for example, they run into an entertainer dressed as a cheap SpongeBob Squarepants knockoff, who has to explain that copyright issues prevented him from dressing as the real thing. When asked why he’s still wearing the costume, he says he’s not wearing anything underneath.
The plot follows Koldo (Diego Martin) and Clara (Leticia Dolera) as they try to reunite and escape following a very zombie-related interruption of their wedding reception. Koldo, determined to be with the love of his life, dons a knight’s armor that just happened to be on display in a church – which, incidentally, the zombies cannot enter on account of it being consecrated ground. I honestly don’t know if the intention was for Koldo to look valiant or ridiculous; it’s hard not to laugh when a man enters a building full of zombies carrying a knight’s shield. Clara, meanwhile, tries to contact Koldo via an intercom system. When that fails, she makes her way through an underground tunnel, finds a conveniently located chainsaw, hacks away the part of her wedding gown concealing her garter, and becomes a badass zombie killer while a Spanish dance song plays on the soundtrack.
The first twenty minutes consist entirely of found-footage material, a combination of what was shot by Koldo’s cousin, Adrian (Alex Monner), and a professional wedding photographer, Atun (Sr. B). Apart from the fact that most of that time is spent hinting at the terror to come and introducing us to incidental characters who will only be killed off later on, the filmmakers rely way too heavily on the Queasy Cam, especially when the zombies first start attacking. Once those initial twenty minutes have passed, I’m happy to say that director/co-writer Paco Plaza allows an omniscient third-person camera to capture the rest of the action. Unfortunately, that doesn’t improve on the quality of the plot, which is essentially just a clothesline on which to hang scene after scene of bloody massacres.
If one can glean anything at all from this film, it would be the notion that nothing, not even a zombie apocalypse, can come between two people in love. Believe me, it’s not as romantic as it sounds – certainly not when one is dressed like Sir Galahad’s stunt double and the other wields a chainsaw while wearing a blood-soaked wedding dress. I’m sure [REC] 3: Genesis will give fans of the zombie genre exactly what they want. For my money, the film is clichéd, silly, and annoyingly unclear about how it wants to present itself. Be a serious drama or be a goofy send-up, but please, don’t try to be both at the same time. There’s no way it could work. Then again, maybe it could. Maybe the solution lies within the pages of the Bible. There’s no telling what it’s capable of now that we know that reading from it can stop ravenous zombies from eating people.