- Directed By: Paco Plaza
- Starring: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martin
It is a bold movie to throw out something that has been built over two beloved films. But REC 3 director Paco Plaza is nothing if not bold. Occurring in tandem with the storyline of the first two films (two of the best films to come out of the found footage genre) Rec 3 takes place at the lavish wedding of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin). They are surrounded by their loved ones who love them so much that they’ll show up even if a dog that appears to be dead bites them (a subtle, yet appreciate nod to the first film). As the inevitable zombie/demon outbreak occurs, Clara and Koldo are separated and spend the rest of the film making their way back to one another.
What has separated the REC series from other modern zombie films, is its intelligence and reliance on the “real”. Whether the “real” in question is its found footage format or reactions for the characters, the REC series has built its chilling quality on the way its filmmakers Plaza and co-director of the first two films Jaume Balagueró utilized slightly off camera angles and sharp plot twists that arose through the mayhem of being confined within an apartment complex during a deadly outbreak. Within the first half hour of REC 3, Plaza does away with the found footage aspect in an interesting moment of meta-filmmaking to proceed with the film more generically. And therein lies the problem.
Wherein the first two films succeed in merging the fear of an unknown, ferocious attack on a set of likeable character and mixing the elements of a viral outbreak with demonic possession, REC 3 merely limps along showing us a lame version of a film we’ve already seen before. After the initial outbreak the film splits between Clara and Koldo’s storylines as they encounter their wedding guest, some alive some demonized, as they struggle to make their way back to each other positive that the other is still alive. The film relies on cheap gags that ignore the severity of the situation. Moments of real emotion are attempted but fall flat as they are confront by what used to be their nearest and dearest. Both Dolera and Martin are likeable enough as the two leads but their characters are so woefully under-developed that it’s hard to believe the creators of the first two films made this one. Dolera’s most character driven moment is when she decides to kick butt by tearing off part of her wedding gown, picking up a chainsaw and yelling “It’s my day” repeatedly in a moment cribbed from Peter Berg’s Very Bad Things.
What Plaza lacks in storytelling and character, he makes up for with visual flair. By doing away with their found footage format, Plaza makes interesting use of the rented manor setting. Filled with catacombs, churches, and convenient PA systems, the manor house and estate is probably the film’s most interesting character. The setting creates an eerie cross between a dream and a fairy tale. It is simply a shame that it wasn’t integrated more fully into the story.
REC 3 manages to not explain anything about the first two films and fail to pay anything off for fans of the series. According to the film’s publicity, this is all in preparation of for the final installment of the series, REC 4 Apocalypse directed by Balagueró, making REC 3 a mere stepping stone between films. A film that breaks the conventions established in the first films and fails to add anything new beyond what any horror fan with half a brain has been seeing in zombie films for the last ten years. What Plaza has tried to do with this film is insert a horror-comedy chapter into the REC series. Unfortunately the jokes fall flat (as they do when you have to explain a joke 2-3 times) and then tries to demand an emotional catharsis at the end of the film that it simply hasn’t earned. REC 3 is simply another competent zombie film that, at its best, will make you want to revisit the superior originals.