Paco Plaza

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You could try and argue that [Rec] isn’t one of the best found footage films ever, but you’d be fighting a losing battle. The 2007 chiller managed a near perfect execution of story and format in a film that gives viewers a likable heroine, an interesting mythology and multiple scenes of pure terror. A sequel followed two years later, and while it wasn’t quite as strong it once again delivered lots of scares alongside a developing story. Both films used found footage and both managed it with extreme effectiveness. but a decision was made to drop the tool for the [Rec]3: Genesis, and that decision along with a shift to a more comedic tone resulted in a disappointment. Jaume Balagueró, the co-director/co-writer of those first two films (as well as the director of the excellent, blackly comic thriller Sleep Tight), skipped out on part three but is now back in control for [Rec]4: Apocalypse. The film is said to be the final installment in the series, and as the production still (courtesy of Bloody Disgusting) above shows it also promises to be another extremely bloody affair. Check out the first trailer below.

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Rec 3 Genesis

There are two movies in [Rec] 3: Genesis. The first is a standalone horror comedy that delivers on multiple fronts, and the second is a third entry in a franchise that comes off as the red-headed step-child. For what it’s worth, the horror film from director Paco Plaza (who pulls duties on this one while directing partner Jaume Balaguero makes the fourth installment) is incredibly satisfying even with its uneven shifts from absurd monster comedy to genuine pee-inducing fear, but aimed squarely at those who first went into the apartment building of [Rec] and were brave enough to return, this movie is bound to be a head-scratcher. The main reason, as Plaza explains himself, is that he wasn’t content to deliver exactly on expectations anymore. After a sequel that came off an assembly line with a few added specs, [Rec] 3 is a drug dealer giving confetti to junkies showing up for crack cocaine.

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Not content to deliver the same kind of movie as REC and REC 2, Paco Plaza has crawled way out onto a blood-covered limb to turn the third installment, REC 3: Genesis, into a romantic horror comedy set at a wedding. There are still some jaw-ripping practical effects and zombie scares aplenty, but the tone is purposefully meant to deny audience’s their expectations.The gamble is one that might alienate fans. This week on Reject Radio Horror Chit Chat, we speak with the director about the risk in making something beyond expectations (and how he plans on getting killed quickly when the zombie apocalypse goes down). Plus, we get into a thorough discussion about remakes with our old friend Scott Weinberg. Download Episode #143

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[REC]3: Genesis

The zombie genre has a long way to go before it becomes as annoying as the vampire one, but it’s well on its way to becoming just as ubiquitous. Most of them fall by the wayside into a generic pile of body parts and walk/run arguments, but there are a few that stand out for their inventiveness, energy and pure terror. Two of the best examples in recent years come courtesy of Spanish co-directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. [Rec] and [Rec]2 tied the “found footage” trend to a zombie-like outbreak with both films consisting strictly of handheld (or helmet mounted) camera footage wielded by the characters themselves. They both take place in the same building and are ridiculously and wonderfully terrifying. (The zombie moniker is arguable as they most resemble the mindless ghouls from 28 Days Later, but just run with it. Or walk with it.) The third film, Genesis, loses Balagueró’s involvement as Plaza takes on solo directing duties. Unfortunately, he at some point inexplicably decided the [Rec] films were lacking in laughs and felt he could rectify that here. He tries to infuse comedy into the story, and even though he fails repeatedly each stab at humor lessens any hope for the horror side of things. Jokes fall flat. Terror, tension and fear are non-existent. And we quickly realize which half of the original directing duo held all the talent.

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Of all the movies I wish I had a Berlinale Market Badge for, REC 3: Genesis probably topped the list. The first was pee-inducing, the second one was so scary that one of my testicles jumped back into my body, and Paco Plaza‘s next installment of the franchise promises more vigorous found footage style alongside a ton of blood. According to the official synopsis: “Koldo and Clara are about to celebrate the most important day of their lives: their wedding. The reception is being held at a beautiful old stately home in the middle of the countryside. Everything appears to be running smoothly and the bride and groom and their families are enjoying a wonderful day; that is until some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Before they know what’s happening, the bride and groom find themselves in the middle of a hellish ordeal, as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on the wedding. Amidst the chaos, Koldo and Clara become separated and begin a desperate search for one another. What started off as an idyllic day quickly descends into a nightmare of the worst kind…” Check out this excellent, romantic trailer for yourself:

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Two years ago, on a night just like this, Landon and I sat down on a giant couch as Luke Mullen introduced us both to [REC]. Needless to say there was an equal amount of screaming and bodily fluid clean-up after the credits rolled. That movie is scary as hell. So is the sequel. Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero managed to take the same concept and extend it along with its mythology in [REC] 2. With the third and fourth installments, the pair are going in an entirely new direction. [REC] 3: Genesis moves the action far away from the infamous apartment building and into the daylight. As promised by the synopsis, it will lead into the fourth film – the final chapter in the series. The teaser trailer is an exercise in oddity as a wedding party erupts in the bloodiest kind of wanton violence.

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Drinking Games

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into your super-rabies-infested apartment building in Barcelona, directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza bring the horror back in a sequel to the groundbreaking [REC]. This time, we see more of the horror from a couple different perspectives, and even though it’s shakycam with subtitles, it’s easy enough to follow, even with a few drinks in you.

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REC 2

Picking up where the original left off, [REC] 2 offers a bevy of first-person scares and moments rife with tension. It’s an admirably efficient horror exercise with an in-your-face, down-to-business sensibility that never lets up. The picture lacks the fully-rounded, satisfying sense of a narrative arc introduced and explored, but it provides a fine dose of sheer visceral entertainment. Shot in the Blair Witch/Cloverfield handheld style, the picture forgoes exposition to send a new team into the sealed off apartment building overrun with zombies, into which (in the original) a TV reporter and her cameraman descended, never to return. The new, rather brainless squad consists of a medical officer (Jonathan Mellor) hiding a secret and a SWAT team.

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When he reviewed it at Fantastic Fest last year, our own Cole Abaius called [REC] 2 a “near perfect” horror movie. It’s the kind of movie that I won’t even see because it’s so terrifying. I even had to close my eyes during this red band trailer…

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After stunning audiences with their first two films, Plaza and Balaguero are each taking on a REC film of their own.

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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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