I will freely admit that I am not the greatest fan of found footage cinema. Every now and then something comes along that uses this minimalist technique well, and occasionally a classic of the genre can result. Movies like Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza's [REC] or Patrick Brice's CREEP have shown there's plenty of possibility for creativity in what often feels a limiting medium. All that's needed is a bit of style and originality.
Then there are all the others, the ones that seem to think that frantically wobbling a camera so you cannot see what is going on creates suspense, those that think you won't question someone who keeps filming despite being subjected to all kinds of atrocities, and those that appear to be someone's holiday camcorder footage repackaged with a few murders and sold to a DVD label with a low quality bar.
HOOKED UP is in that second category.
It has a gimmick though, I'll give it that, and exploitation cinema has thrived on gimmicks throughout the decades. Life insurance if you die of fright, electric shocks delivered to your cinema seat, supposedly never-before-discovered cannibal tribes living in the depths of South America.
HOOKED UP’s gimmick is that it was filmed on a iPhone.
I know, it's not a terribly good gimmick, is it? Not the sort of thing that has you thinking 'Wow - I bet that'll be good, then.' More a case of 'I wonder if this is going to look anything but awful'.
Well full marks, at least, then, to HOOKED UP for not looking any worse than the plethora of found footage rubbish that can be found out there. To be honest if they hadn't told me it was filmed on an iPhone I would have assumed a conventional camera was used. Perhaps that's the movie's raison d'etre - an advert for a device rather than anything else. I haven't said anything about the actual film yet, but that's because there's not that much to say. Let's have a go anyway.
Any film that opens with five minutes of what looks like actual vomiting followed by a scene in which one unpleasant character urinates on another unpleasant character in the bath is either the province of people with highly specialised tastes or doing its best to alienate its audience from the word go. Anyway that's what we get here. Our two unsympathetic champions of nausea are Tonio (Jonah Ehrenreich) and Peter (Stephen Ohl), two young Americans who decide to take a trip to Barcelona to help Peter forget about his recent breakup with his girlfriend. As with most of the films of this type that only last about 78 minutes the first third of the movie is taken up with them getting there, followed by interminable night club scenes that one presumes, or rather hopes, were a lot of fun for those involved while we the viewer search for the fast forward button.
The two lads hook up with two girls and end up going home with them. After the kind of repellant and ill-advised sex scenes found footage often excels at, they find themselves locked in the house and being pursued by a masked woman with an axe. I would never presume to reveal the ending of a film, no matter how bad, and I'm not going to here - if you want to find out what happens you're going to have to brave it for yourself.
HOOKED UP is a classic example of all the shortcomings of the found footage genre. One presumes that as well as being filmed on an iPhone that the characters themselves are in possession of said phone in the film (it is certainly referred to), yet when it is dropped it somehow lands conveniently on its edge to keep filming the action. They also seem to be so busy filming themselves being chased and hacked about that no-one thinks of trying to call the police using the...you know...that thing you're holding in your hand? Jaume Collet-Serra (HOUSE OF WAX, ORPHAN) has his name linked to this but one has to wonder how and why. Signature's DVD has no extras but the box art is very nice.HOOKED UP isn't 100% dreadful but unless you are really, really into these things, or fancy watching excessive vomiting and magical phone balancing you’ll be much better off watching something else.
HOOKED UP is being released on Region 2 DVD by Signature Entertainment on 27th April 2015.