[REC]3 GENESIS

Question: does a successful franchise have the “right” to change its signature style and still market itself under its original name? Obviously, whoever owns the copyright can do as they damn well please. But it can be a jolt to the expectations. A quarter of the way into [REC]3, the hand-held verite filmmaking that characterized the first two [REC]s comes to a crashing end (literally) — at which point the title credit finally appears, and after which the thriller is shot in conventional style. Up until then, we’ve been treated to multiple amateur videographers (and one professional) at a large wedding fated to turn very, very bloody. But with the return of smooth camerawork and calculated editing, we’re suddenly in a very different film. I was skeptical at first, but it works, thanks mostly to an ocean of blood spurting from mouths, heads, necks and bellies, with a few vivid dismemberments including a skull cleaved vertically in half with a chainsaw, the victim snapping vainly at the saw-wielding woman’s throat until the very end. This is a fairly traditional zombie flick, with some religious overtones that mostly serve to give the hero bride and groom a temporary way out of danger. In the end, however, Spanish fatalism wins out. — Jeff Schultz

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