The first [REC] film was somewhat a breath of fresh air rather than rancid smell in the horror market. It brought together the idea of a zombie virus, a through-the-camera POV (point-of-view) format and a claustrophobic thriller... where can you go when you've nowhere left to run... when the world thinks it can contain the very real problem simply by containing you? The Spanish-language thriller was a hit domestically and rapidly expanded out - metaphorically - from the cursed apartment block at its core. A sequel followed and now we literally move away from the building and into a different format. It may not be strictly verite cinema any more, but it still knows how to go for the vein.
After working with his friend and creative partner Jaume Balaguero on the first two, Paco Plaza now goes solo (with Balaguero taking his turn with the announced fourth entry next year). Impact asked the director about the genesis of the franchise and his influences...
IMPACT: Paco, thank you for talking to Impact. What is it about 'zombies' that seems to have caught the imagination? Over the last decade they've been everywhere, most recently even a bonafide television hit with The Walking Dead. Why ARE they so popular?
Paco Plaza: I think zombies are the most contemporary monsters; our society has slowly turned into a zombie walk; individualism is out of fashion, and we people tend more and more to look act and think as the others around us. Regarding TWD, I haven’t followed it on a regular basis but all I’ve seen I’ve liked very much.
IMPACT: The [REC] movies have been strong releases, both domestically and internationally, what have been the big challenges?
PP: Going up and downs so many stairs in the first and the second; but it helped us to get fitter. We all lose some weight, specially Pablo Rosso (our Director of Photography). But none of the three have been a hard shooting; on the contrary they have been three very pleasant experiences.
IMPACT: Are there actually more challenges when continuing a story/theme for a film 'franchise' or was it more difficult when originally starting the [REC] story and coming up with something unique?
PP: This is a great question! It’s very different. In our case, [REC] wasn’t a challenge because we didn’t have the expectation of doing something unique. Jaume Balaguero and I were two friends who love horror films and decide to grab a handycam and shoot one; with very little money, without financial risks and with the only goal of having fun in the process. We didn’t know even if it was going to be released. With everything that happened later and the success, doing the sequels was a constant struggle to keep that in mind: just try to have fun.
IMPACT: Unlike the previous outings where you directed alongside Jaume, for this third film, you are the sole director. How did that change the over-all experience for you?
PP: It was not very different. I missed Jaume a lot, but specially promoting the film, doing interviews, travelling to other countries. We had great fun together. This film starts before the first [REC], but the three films take place in the same time frame of 20 hours, overlapping.
IMPACT: What do you think of the horror genre in general at the moment? Other than the work you've done, who do you consider the current innovators?
PP: I think that there are many interesting people working in this field; I would name Alexandre Aja as one of my favourite, Kim Jee Won, and specially a new Spanish talent that has shocked me recently: Carlos Vermut; his debut film, Diamond Flash has been really refreshing for me.
IMPACT: The US film industry remade the original [REC] as 'Quarantine'. How do you think it's getting any easier for European films to stand on their own merits rather than Hollywood merely re-imagining them?
PP: Quarantine helped to make REC extremely popular overseas, and put our film under a new light. Being remade gave [REC] something close to cult status, so I’m very grateful to the producers that decided to do it. I have no bad feelings at all.
[ABOVE]: Original Walking Dead illustrator Tony Moore provides a variation on the film's poster...
Rec  GENESIS is released on DVD and blu-ray by eOne on September 3rd and will be reviewed soon...