Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

In 2007, Paco Plaza and Jaume Balagueró breathed fresh life into the zombe genre with the adrenaline-pumping [Rec]. In 2009 they did it again, further developing the idea of a cannibal madness triggered by demonic possession. In the third, Plaza goes it alone, starting out with a wedding video but going on to break with the found footage formula so we get a more fluid story and see more of what he can do as a director.

The wedding is that of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martín). They're young, beautiful, and very much in love. Watching the guests gather through the eyes of a friend with a camera, we gain intimate access to what is a very personal celebration. Koldo sings a love song. Everybody claps and cheers. Assorted relatives give their personal tributes. Later, at the reception, the drink flows and everybody joins in with a disco. Clara and Koldo can't get a private moment together, which is difficult, as she has something important to tell him, but they figure they'll have the rest of their lives for that. Everybody is having a fantastic time. Then Koldo's uncle falls off the balcony, bites another guest in the face, and all Hell breaks loose.

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From there on out, the story is simple. It's also comparatively realistic. We don't see everyone we've met brutally killed. Some find at least temporary shelter. Our focus is on the newlyweds, separated in the chaos, desperately trying to find one another. When forced to it, both are brave and resourceful, though their ideas may not always turn out as well as they hoped. Trying to dodge the monsters, they make their way through a lurid landscape of religious iconography, disco tat and bloodied corpses, helped by asorted minor characters. There's Atún (a standout performance from Borja Glez), the professional cameraman who is quickest to assess the situation; Rafa, the best friend determined to escape; Natalie, the French girl with whom Clara has fallen out; John the Sponge, a children's entertainer honestly not based on Spongebob; and the inspector who has sneaked into the wedding to record the songs and sue for copyright. They're all well drawn and highly watchable, providing affectionate moments, comedy and human drama amid the slaughter.

This investment in character really matters because in terms of story the film doesn't have many ideas. The zombie slayings, when they eventually happen, are visually striking and will please gore fans, but they're not especially original. In between there's a lot of running about, hiding, being trapped and escaping (or not), and constantly encountering more trouble. Meanwhile, the local priest, convinced it's the end of the world, struggles to find the voice with which to proclaim his faith - the one thing that might stop these particular monsters.

What really makes the film work, aside from character, is its energetic pace and Pablo Rosso's stunning cinematography. Vibrant colour and creative use of light make the most of the locations and combine perfectly with Plaza'a vivid visual imagination. There are images here that will be forever etched in genre lore. Strong sound design by Gabriel Gutiérrez completes the picture, adding to the visceral impact of the violence and providing a little creepiness where it's needed. This may be an old, familiar story, but it's told very well indeed and it's hard to imagine any fan of the genre failing to enjoy it.

Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2012
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[REC]³ GÉNESIS packshot
A wedding goes awry when the guests inexplicably start snacking on each other.
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Frightfest 2012

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