Set slightly before the events of REC, the meat of the story takes place at a wedding reception for love birds Koldo and Clara, an adorable couple who genuinely dig each other, so you love ‘em for that right away. Clara’s got a secret, however, and unfortunately, Plaza and his co-write Luiso Berdejo (who contributed to the first REC) call upon a tired genre trope at this point in an effort to raise the emotional stakes.
Akin to the first two films, this reception turns sour and a possession outbreak occurs. It’s around this point where REC 3 goes from “business as usual with potential” to something, well, pretty conventional. The first act is rife with first-person perspective camera work, hopping between a teenager’s digital camera to a professional wedding videographer (who bears a striking resemblance to Guillermo del Toro and claims he works for a company called Filmax, a nod and a wink to the production outfit behind the REC films). During a moment of clarity that one doesn’t get much of in found footage flicks, someone actually drops the camera and REC 3 is pushed into a, well, traditionally shot film.
The rest plays out fairly standard as Plaza’s tale focuses on reuniting Koldo and Clara – both of whom were split during the massacre. Plaza keeps the pace speeding along, throwing endless waves of possessed at our survivors, a random selection of folk who keep things interesting (for instance “SpongeJohn”). But, more or less, REC 3 is pretty formulaic. Disappointing, because REC 2 was so progressive. This film isn’t so much a step backwards, but it certainly has the series running in place while it figures out where to turn next.
It’s a fun journey nonetheless, because it’s set in this established world we hold so dearly. I just hope, when Jaume Balaguero hits us with REC: Apocalypse – the supposed final chapter in the series – we’ll get blown away with something fresh.