By Ian Watson (Wales)
The first ‘found footage’ movie to inspire two sequels and a Hollywood revamp, if Rec’s international success played a part in getting the likes of The Devil Inside and Apollo 18 greenlit then it has a lot to answer for. The makers of Rec 3 seem aware of this so after fifteen minutes of handheld wedding footage that’s as dull as anything we saw in a Paranormal Activity movie, zombies are unleashed on the ceremony, but director Paco Plaza, not content to go through the motions a third time, frees his sequel from its constraints by having a character put the boot to the camera the moment some idiot begins recording the atrocities and subsequently reverts to conventional cinematography.
The laws of diminishing returns dictate that a second sequel will either disappoint (X-Men: The Last Stand) or descend into self-parody (Superman III), but in terms of audience expectation Plaza’s film could be likened to Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 – if you thought you were getting more of the same, watch out. Ditching the po-faced seriousness of previous installments, Plaza opts instead for the playful, cartoonish tone of Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror (note leading lady Leticia Dolera’s passing resemblance to Marley Shelton) and splatters the screen crimson.
Which is terrific fun if you thought Rec 2 fumbled the ball and ran out of steam, but viewers who really did want more of the same will not be enamored of scenes in which the undead are despatched with egg whisks by chain-mail wearing opponents, nor of a character who calls himself Sponge John because Sponge Bob was taken. Then there’s Dolera’s blood-spattered bride, cutting her assailants in half with a very phallic (and conveniently located) chainsaw, something we never got to see in the original.
Whether you consider Rec 3 a fun reinvention or an unnecessary descent into mindless splatter, one thing’s certain: it’ll never be mistaken for its predecessors. And you can’t say that about Paranormal Activity 3.