Director – Paco Plaza, Screenplay – Luiso Berdejo & Paco Plaza, Story – Luiso Berdejo, David Gallart & Paco Plaza, Producer – Julio Fernandez, Photography – Pablo Rosso, Music – Mikel Salas, Visual Effects Supervisor – Alex Villagrasa, Makeup Effects – David Ambit, Production Design – Gemma Fauria. Production Company – Filmax International/TVE/Ono/Canal +/Televisio de Catalunya/Institut Catalia de les Industries Culturals/Ministerio de Cultura.
Diego Martin (Koldo), Leticia Dolera (Clara), Xavier Ruano (Father Albelda), Alex Monner (Adrian), Ismael Martinez (Rafa), Miguel Angel Gonzalez (John Sponge), Sr. B (Atun), Emilio Mencheta (Uncle Pepe Victor), Dolores Martin (Mother of Koldo), Bial Llopis (Father of Clara)
It is the wedding day of Koldo and Clara. As the lavish ceremony gets underway, it is filmed by both young Adrian and the professional videographer Atun. Koldo’s Uncle Pepe Victor appears to get increasingly drunk. When Pepe falls from the ballroom balcony, the entire wedding erupts into chaos as people infected by his bite turn and savagely tear out the throats of others. Separated, both Koldo and Clara run through the venue trying to escape the hordes of zombies and reunite with one another.
The Spanish-made [Rec] (2007) was one of the hits in the Found Footage genre, coming out just before the genre went meteoric with Paranormal Activity (2007) and everyone everywhere started copying the style. The success of [Rec] was such that it was quickly remade in English language as Quarantine (2008), which also spawned a sequel with Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011). Co-directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza returned with a sequel to the original, [Rec] 2 (2009). They then announced a duo of sequels to be directed by either of them separately. The first of these emerges with Paco Plaza’s [Rec]3: Genesis here and was followed by Jaume Balaguero’s [Rec]4: Apocalypse (2014).
The title [Rec]3: Genesis gives one a certain expectation as they sit down to watch – that the film is going to be a prequel that goes back to tell the story of how the zombie/possession outbreak started. However, this turns out not to be the case. In fact, as it appears, [Rec]3: Genesis is a film about another identical zombie outbreak occurring at a wedding party. With the screening of the footage of Manuela Velasco’s reporter as a live feed on one of the tv screens in the control room, it becomes apparent that the events of [Rec]3: Genesis are occurring contemporaneously with the events of [Rec]. No origin story is ever offered up. The title is sort of justified towards the end when the priest (Xavier Ruano) quells the zombies into submission by a reading from The Book of Genesis, although one feels that this is straining to justify an explanation of the title.
While keeping to the same zombie and outbreak of evil themes as the first two [Rec] films, Paco Plaza breaks with the tradition. The film opens in the same Found Footage style, alternating between footage being shot by both professional videographer Sr. B and family member Alex Monner on his handicam. However, not long into the film – indeed, very shortly after the zombie outbreak occurs – the Found Footage look is abandoned. Alex Monner’s camera is broken by groom Diego Martin, angry that he is still filming, and when everybody makes an escape via a ventilation shaft Sr. B elects to stay behind because he is too fat to fit into the duct. Thereafter, with both of his camera people out of action, Paco Plaza forgets about Found Footage (apart from the odd scene filmed through security cameras) and the bulk of the film is shot in standard dramatic staging. ([Rec]4 would abandon the Found Footage approach altogether).
The other notable thing is that this appears to be one entry in the [Rec] franchise where Paco Plaza is determined to simply have fun. He is constantly deflating the pretensions of the Found Footage genre – “all American films are shot like that now,” Sr. B snidely notes at one point. Sr. B is also constantly making allusions between the footage he is shooting and critically acclaimed directors like Jean Renoir and Dziga Vertov.
Considerable amusement comes from some of the quirky characters that Plaza and co-writer Luiso Berdejo peoples the film with – the character of the children’s entertainer John Sponge (Miguel Angel Gonzalez) who is designed as a lookalike of Spongebob Squarepants (because they weren’t able to obtain use of the copyright) and who is forced to stay in his absurdly bulky suit throughout the action because he is only wearing underwear beneath; the milquetoast inspector who has only turned up to the wedding to ensure royalties are being paid on the songs used and is thrust into the action; Leticia Dolera encountering a friend and realising that the friend didn’t want to come to the wedding and she didn’t really want to invite her either but both felt obliged to.
Mostly, [Rec]3: Genesis is a film where Paco Plaza delivers the solidly satisfying, moderately gore-drenched goods we expect, while also planting tongue in cheek and undercutting it with considerable sense of humour. The film reaches its height of entertainment towards the end where shell-shocked bride Leticia Dolera picks up a chainsaw, tears the leg of her wedding gown off up to the garter and starts chainsawing her way through the hordes of zombies while angrily insisting “This is my day” – surely an image destined to be as iconic as that of Tim Balme going into action against zombies with a jury-rigged lawnmower in Braindead/Deadalive (1992).
The film reaches a particularly striking climax where [PLOT SPOILERS] the priest’s reading from The Bible over the loudpeaker system causes all of the zombies to freeze in place, allowing Diego Martin and Leticia Dolera to walk between them to the front gate – except for his elderly grandfather who has turned his hearing aid off and cannot hear the Bible verses. The two finally emerge through the quarantine cordon erected around the site and go for a sentimental end as they come together in a kiss – only for her possession (from the grandfather’s bite) to take over whereupon she rips his tongue out.
Paco Plaza’s other genre films include:- the horror film Second Name (2002), the excellent Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt (2004), the true-life supernatural manifestation film Veronica (2017) and The Grandmother (2021) about a sinister senior.