I'm in the camp that was absolutely blown away by REC, which I consider to be one of the very best horror films of the 2000's. Naturally, I was super excited about the same dudes behind that one returning for REC 2, the release of which was a bit of a landmark moment for me here in the blogging community. Why? Because I was invited to a press screening of the film in New York City, the first time I ever received such an invite. Considering I saw REC just a couple years prior via illegal download (not proud that I dabbled in that a bit back in the day), it was pretty awesome to make the jump to press screening for the sequel. Needless to say, the franchise has got a special place in my heart, and not just because it's fucking awesome. Which it most definitely is.
Now. The sequel. I'm a fan of that one too, though it is in my opinion inferior to the first one. Some interesting roads were traveled down for that one, and it was completely effective and solid as a horror sequel, but the main gripe I had with it was that it's a bit too similar to the first. The location is the same and it just felt a little too 'been there done that' to me. Hell, it's kinda hard for me to even differentiate between the two in my mind.
Oh by the way. I mentioned in my review of REC 2 way back when that I wasn't sure how the hell the title of these films was supposed to be pronounced. Is it R-E-C, verbally spelled out, or is it pronounced more like the word wreck? I always found myself uncomfortable saying the title of the films out loud, because I really wasn't sure if I was saying it right. And I wasn't. I used to spell it out but I now realize it's the latter option. So yea, that's been settled, and I'm a better fan for it.
Where were we? Oh right. Wreck 3. Err, REC 3.
REC 3 has been one of my most anticipated movies in the last couple years, which isn't just because it's another installment in a franchise I dig, made by the same guys responsible for the previous two. The main source of my excitement was that it seemed like this one was going to be totally different than the first two, which was the direction I felt the series needed to go. Taking the infected apocalypse out of the high rise apartment building we've come to know and fear, REC 3 instead throws a bunch of people into a post-wedding reception hall, to celebrate what is supposed to be the happiest day of two young lovers' lives. Yep, it's REC at a wedding and I'm happy to say that my anticipation over the change of pace was more than warranted.
Layman's terms? This movie is the tits. Tits are good. Balls are bad.
REC 3 begins at the wedding of Clara & Koldo and then moves to their reception, a family event that we're found footage flies on the wall of for the first 20 minutes of the film. One thing I've always loved about the series is how real the films tend to feel, and this calm before the storm extended opening sequence is no exception. I've been to a few of these wedding/reception galas, in fact I just went to one a couple months back, and the movie really nails the feel of those events. From the nervous bride and groom to the weirdo family and friends who add a little flavor to the proceedings, it really felt like watching footage of a real wedding. In this opening 20 minutes, which actually precedes one of the most delayed title cards in film history, the event is shown from footage pulled from several different cameras, which really adds to that realistic feel. Everyone tends to want to film their own footage of weddings, whether it's the young kid putting his handheld HD cam to good use or the hired videographer wielding his high end steadicam, and all those different viewpoints bring the ceremony to life for us, those blood hungry flies who can't wait to see zombies rip these people to shreds. So yea, it's a totally believable reason for cameras to be rolling.
And then, things get interesting. Really interesting. Once all hell breaks loose, and the infection starts to make its way through the reception, director Paco Plaza makes a highly interesting choice, which completely separates this film from the previous two; the groom sees another character filming all the madness, gets pissed off and proceeds to destroy the camera in a fit of rage. Once the camera is destroyed, the REC 3 : Genesis title card pops up, and the film from that point on, at least for the most part, sheds the found footage aspect and shows the rest of the chaos in typical movie fashion. Again, I felt like the series needed a change of pace, so I was so very happy to see Plaza literally saying, "Fuck this ... time to do something different".
Once that ballsy perspective switch is made, REC 3 even further distances itself from what we've come to expect from the series, replacing the majority of the seriousness with balls out zombie comedy. I am pretty confident that this total change of tone from the previous two REC films will turn many fans of the series off, but I personally love when a horror sequel goes in an entirely different direction than its predecessor (e.g. : Pet Sematary 2, Texas Chainsaw 2), so I had an absolute blast with this one and welcomed the change with arms as wide open as they could possibly be. Zombies are everywhere, blood and limbs are flying all over the place, one of the most badass brides of all time is wielding a big ass chainsaw and there's even a gun toting character in there dressed as SpongeBob motherfuckin' SquarePants ... it's just so much fun, and not at all what one would ever expect from REC 3. And that's precisely why I love it so damn much.
Gotta mention that despite the focus on comedy and go for broke gore, there is also a very strong emotional core to the film, which is a result of the solid 20 minutes of establishing wedding stuff. We really come to feel for the bride and groom, and I personally related to them as a couple a whole lot (I am newly married, after all!), so it's not all just blood and laughs on display here. Always nice to have characters to actually care about, even if the movie itself isn't super serious.
Again, the switch from terror to comedy with Genesis will likely turn off many, who will probably wish that this one was a standalone film, not connected to the series, but I had so much fun with it and I can't recommend enough that any fans of zombie flicks give this one a rental. Hell, even if you weren't into the past two REC films, I bet you'll dig this one. REC 3's gory ass wedding is truly the horror event of the summer, and I strongly advise you to not miss it!
What's next? REC : Apocalypse, of course! The planned final installment in the franchise is again going to be in the hands of Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero, and is set to spread the infection out of one location and unto the entire world. BRING IT!