SXSW Film Reviews: "[REC] 3: Genesis," "The Babymakers," And "Thale"

SXSW Film Reviews: "[REC] 3: Genesis," "The Babymakers," And "Thale"

Reviews by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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[REC] 3: Genesis

Director: Paco Plaza
Stars: Leticia Dolera, Javier Botet, Diego Martin, Ismael Martinez, Mireia Rios, Carla Nieto

Paco Plaza, one-half of the Spanish filmmaking duo behind the double whammy package of [REC] (2007) and [REC] 2 (2009), apparently doesn’t care much for the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Riding solo for [REC] 3: Genesis, Plaza conceived the zombie version of 1982’s Halloween III: Season Of The Witch; you know, the one that has nothing to do with Michael Myers. Here, though, the rabid flesh-eating are still accounted for, but Plaza has totally abandoned the first two films’ claustrophobia, creepiness, and visceral intensity; for the stand-up-and-cheer [REC] 3: Genesis, he’s put together a goofy, balls-out horror-comedy in the vein of Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. And the result is a wild blast.

Starting off in the series’ familiar first-person/found-footage style, Plaza quickly abandons that technique for a traditional movie feel, and that’s also when the over-the-top gore and laughs begin. The setting is the wedding of lovers Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Javier Botet), a joyous occasion that’s interrupted by the groom’s uncle and his dog-bitten, infected hand. And before long, nearly the entire party has gone all ghoul, the groom randomly has on Medeival armor, and the suddenly ass-kicking bride uses a chainsaw to cut a zombie’s head in half.

[REC] 3: Genesis is the rare horror-comedy in which all of the jokes connect, especially a running gag about John Sponge, a kids’ entertainer unable to use “Bob” for copyright reasons. Understandably, die-hard [REC] fans cry foul at such a stark thematic departure, yet, for those able to settle into Plaza’s shamelessly ridiculous tone, [REC] 3: Genesis is a gruesome delight.

Grade: A

The Babymakers

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Stars: Olivia Munn, Aisha Tyler, Paul Schneider, Jay Chandrasekhar, Noureen DeWulf, M.C. Gainey, Miles Fisher<

For close to an hour, The Babymakers, the latest raunch-fest from director Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers), is a harmless little adult comedy, hitting far too clichéd beats (obnoxious best friend, dick jokes, racially charged punchlines) but also charming its way to a friendly pass. The plot is, at first, nicely high-concept: Tommy (Paul Schneider) desperately wants to impregnate his wife, Audrey (Olivia Munn), but his low sperm count, caused by years of donating his ejaculate to the appropriate bank for cash, has left him unable to give her a seed; so, along with his knuckled-headed friends, Tommy decides to reclaim his sperm by robbing the aforementioned bank.

Funny, right? When the film is in Schneider’s able, underrated hands, The Babymakers provides the right amount of dirty chuckles to keep itself this side of dismissible. But then, in an insufferable turn of laziness, Chandrasekhar’s once-passable flick becomes a lame Horrible Bosses-like caper film that’s riddled with obvious gags and juvenile humor that falls totally flat. One maddening scene, for example, pleads for laughs by having a character roll around in puddles of jizz for a good minute straight—thankfully for him, it’s not Schneider.

Grade: C

Thale

Director: Aleksander Nordaas
Stars: Silje Reinåmo, Jon Sigve Skard, Erlend Nervold, Morten Andresen

Norwegian filmmakers clearly have a thing for ancient folklore. Last year, the fairy-tale-inspired Trollhunter injected the found-footage subgenre with Jurassic Park-esque wonder, pointing its camera at Godzilla-sized trolls and keeping the humor consistently effective. On the far more serious end of the spectrum, we’ve now got Thale, a lean and efficient almost-horror film based around the mythical “huldra,” a naked female creature with a cow’s tail that hangs around in the woods and pounces upon disrespectful men.

Writer-director Aleksander Nordaas finds a simplistic entry into the legend: Thale, the film’s primary huldra (played by gorgeous Shakira lookalike Silje Reinamo), has been confined to a cabin in the woods by a loving man, and, after the guardian is slaughtered, two clean-up men, tasked with wiping all the blood away, discover the naked woman in the basement and try to befriend her. Antisocial and silent-mouthed, Thale is never trustworthy, and, just as she begins warming up to one of the guys, her fellow tailed creatures join the party. And the bodies hit the floor.

At only 75 minutes long, Thalehastily settles into its dread-soaked tone, operating as a dark one-location genre film and tightening its grips on viewers’ nerves. That is, until the frustrating conclusion, a pile-on of heart-tugging sentiments that betrays the tension that came before it. Still, though, Nordaas’ engrossing supernatural drama’s plusses, of which there are many, outweigh the finale’s missteps.

Grade: B+

Reviews by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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Tags: sxsw, sxsw-film-festival, olivia-munn, spain, horror, found-footage, norway
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