[Rec] Genesis. Film Review


Starring: Carla Nieto, Leticia Dolera Diego Martin, Claire Baschet, Ishmael Martinez

Director: Paco Plaza                       

Screenplay: Paco Plaza & Luis Berdejo

Rating: 18

Duration: 77mins               

Reviewed by Guy Adams

Well now, that was a bit of a surprise.

I’ve loved both the REC films, they brought real skill and freshness to what was a troublesome subgenre of horror — the ‘found footage movie’, all too often a trope adopted to excuse lack of equipment and skill rather than to contribute to the effectiveness of the story, and I say this as a man who looks at his review pile and suspects he spots another couple of examples hiding in it. Directors Jaume Balaguero andPacoPlazamanaged to build their shaky-cam confections so well, and with such an on-the-nose sense for how to create fear and tension, that they will always be the exception that is increasingly threatening to prove the rule. If you haven’t seen them then try this: sit in a darkened room, utterly still and silent for about five minutes, then scream and start punching yourself in the face THAT’S what watching them is like. Wonderful.

It was announced a while back that there would be two more films in the series, with the directors taking one each. This is the first with [REC] – Apocalypse to follow soon.

It couldn’t be more different to the films that have gone before. In fact, one suspects the director has gone out of his way to make it so.

The defining characteristic of the [REC] movies has been their POV perspective. Twenty minutes into this, after setting up a family wedding with all the camera operators you could hope for, both professional and amateur, Plaza gleefully pulls the rug from under our feet. Diego Martin, as Koldo, the groom, turns to his nephew who has been filming the sudden outbreak on his digital camcorder and demands to know what the lad thinks he’s doing. ‘People have a right to know!” the nephew says, ‘I must record everything!’ At which point Diego does what any sensible human being would do: he snatches the camera out of the boy’s hands and smashes it on the floor. It would seem Plaza is only too aware that the central conceit of the found footage genre (that anyone would continue filming under such trying circumstances) is absurd and wishes to share the joke with us. From there on in the film is shot in a conventional manner, no POV shots whatsoever.

The second gear-change Plaza adopts – and it’s as massive as stripping away the style that has made the films so effective – is he turns his film into a comedy. Not just with the odd quip here and there but with genuine, absurd, slapstick, grotesque comic set pieces.

These things have not done him any favours as far as most reviews are concerned. I don’t altogether agree. First of all I can’t help but respect the bravery that leads to a filmmaker scrapping his safety net and shooting something utterly different. Secondly it is at times genuinely funny without completely abandoning the tension and fear. That’s a real achievement (c.f. Kill Zombie). I won’t deny that he’s bound to have a lot of startled viewers on his hands but [REC] – Genesis is still the work of an accomplished horror filmmaker and should be enjoyed on its own terms rather than simply compared to what has gone before and whinged about because it’s not similar enough. Since when did similarity lead to anything worthwhile?

I am intrigued as to what Balaguero does with the final film. No doubt it will be a black and white porn cartoon. I for one will be happy to watch with an open mind and see what the end of the world has to offer.