M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Last month, counted down my favorite horror films from my first year of reviewing. Now it’s on to Year Two which began officially on October 1, 2011 and went through September 30, 2012. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around a bit. I’ve even added a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2011 and September 30, 2012 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on September 3, 2012 and available on Video On Demand, digital download, and DVD/BluRay!

[REC]3: GENESIS (2012)

Directed by Paco Plaza
Written by Paco Plaza, Luiso Berdejo, David Gallart
Starring Leticia Dolera, Diego Martin, Javier Botet, Alex Monner, Ismael Martinez, Claire Baschet, Mireia Ros, Ana Isabel Velásquez, Borja Glez. Santaolalla, Carla Nieto
Find out more about this film here!

Though much ballyhoo is heaped on THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT as the one that made found footage the popular trend in horror that we have today, I have to disagree and say that, while there were some found footage films after BWP, it wasn’t until PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and internationally [REC] came along before people realized the potential fright factor (and thrift factor) those types of films possess. I remember the first time I saw [REC] and how absolutely terrified I was from it. Now, there are those who hate QUARANTINE, but for it being the shot for shot remake that it is, I have to admit my fondness for that film as well, mainly because Dexter’s freaky sister Jennifer Carpenter always creeps me out.

[REC]2 evolved naturally from the first film—it was, by and large, its own film; pushing the mythos forward and delving into the religious matters that might be behind this plague. As Plaza and his creative partner Juame Balaguero split for parts 3 and 4, the two seem to have decided to evolve the series even further. Having seen [REC]3 twice now, I understand those who criticize the film, but still feel it is something far superior than mostly all of the zombie/plague/possession films out there today.

Dropping the hand held, found footage style fifteen minutes in seems to be a conscious statement by the director that we are moving past the allure of making the same film all over again for the third time in a row and he wants to do something different in the same universe, using the same rules, and telling a much broader story. [REC]3 GENESIS does this by doing what the previous two [REC] films did so well—that is, taking expectations of something we take for granted (in [REC] it was the reality television show, in [REC]2 one could argue it was the COPS based reality show or even our fascination with on the spot war news as it followed the response team around the same building through the soldier’s eyes) and tossing them on its ear. In [REC]3 GENESIS, Plaza takes a more common standard, the wedding and twists it into a complete nightmare.

By doing this, I feel Plaza has made the most thematically strongest entry in the series to date. Every cliché is met in the first few minutes from the creepy uncle who drinks too much to the fat aunt who likes to pinch cheeks to the chicken dance. In showing this typical wedding, Plaza draws the audience in and helps them get comfortable before going for the kill. These establishing scenes as seen through the intimate hand held lens of the camera in the first minutes solidify the audience’s investment and the film relies on that once the camera is dropped.

Though it was made evident in [REC]2, I fully understood that this isn’t a zombie film, but a film about what would happened if Regan from THE EXORCIST were not tied to the bed and what if there were fifty Regans running around passing on the possession through bites and scratches. The religious themes continue to permeate as playing readings from the bible send the possessed into a trance and other holy methods and means are used to combat this demonic threat. The simple fact that so much of the typical wedding is based on religious tradition makes it the perfect place for Plaza to utilize his demonic plague to the fullest.

Carrying out these themes are the loving newlywed couple who are separated for most of the film Leticia Dolera and Diego Martin. Martin does a decent job as the committed husband who won’t give up until he finds his blushing bride, though I was distracted as to how much Martin looks like a Spainish Jason Segal. Leticia Dolera is fantastic and is able to suck you in as the adorable bride, then shock you at the ultra-violence she is willing to dole out when her special day is turned ass up. The scenes of the bride going apeshit with a chainsaw could have been campy, but the wide-eyed craziness nature of her performance is reminiscent of Marilyn Burns frantic performance in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

Chainsaw dances aside, [REC]3 GENESIS works best when it is subtle. From the beginning, having seen the previous two films, there are signs that things are slowly going wrong. From the coughing uncle to the hazmat team in the background; if you’ve seen [REC] & [REC]2, you know where this is going and the patience Plaza takes to get there really works well by teasing our expectations. Once shit does fly, it does so at a frantic pace. While I can see the point of some folks that without the hand held found footage angle this cinematic approach is nothing more than one of the millions of zombie films available today, but the way Plaza handles the key scenes of this film—be they the wedding setup or the truly moving ending of this film, [REC]3 GENESIS proves that, though this may be a found footage/zombie mash-up film, it is definitely is the best of its kind. See it! It’s good.

THE 2011-2012 COUNTDOWN!

#24 – [REC]3 GENESIS
#28 – INBRED

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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