Some Native American superstitions believe that a photo can capture your soul. What if the same happened with a video recording? The horror, Playback, directed by Michael Nickles, explores this idea but with a supernatural twist. Now, imagine if the devil could capture your soul just by making you look into a camera. All of Hollywood would be screwed.
The thriller opens up in similar found-footage fashion, in the midst of a murder spree being committed by Harlan Diehl. The crazed Diehl seems possessed as he carelessly murders his parents and sister, leaving a crying baby behind, but not before filming it with his cam corder! Time flashes to present day and the audience is introduced to the horror-obsessed filmmaker, Julian, as he and his teenage friends attempt to recreate the famous murders for a school project.
The cast includes the stereotypical group of kids: the hornball best friend, the whorebag bestie, the good girl, the supportive girlfriend who is SUPER cool with everyone, the druggie loner, and of course, the amazing creative and sensitive boyfriend who just wants to solve the ongoing murder-mystery.
As Julian and his girlfriend Riley delve deeper into their town’s mysterious past, trying to dig up more info for their project, they realize that the situation isn’t everything that it appears to be. The pair learn that Diehl was the descendant of the famous Louis Le Prince, said to be the father of films and oh yeah, the devil incarnate.
Supposedly, Mr. Le Prince liked to film people in order to capture their souls and the easiest way for him to do so was to film his own son, who in turn did the same to his son, and so on. The couple learn that all of the individuals that appeared in Le Prince’s film died shortly after, furthering their suspicions.
Meanwhile, Julian’s drugged out creepfest for a friend, Quinn, who happens to work at the local news station, decides to look up the case at Julian’s request. This results in Quinn watching the original murder video and becoming possessed. Uh, don’t understand how but ok, I’ll let this one slide.
So, Quinn becomes possessed and he starts planting video recording devices in various areas, possessing the group of friends one by one, and in turn, making them do whatever he wants. During all of the shenanigans, the mighty fine Christian Slater is the town cop with a dark secret: he likes to watch teenage girls. So? If Christian Slater wanted to watch me get undressed, I am not ashamed to say that I would GLADLY let him. So. Hot.
Anyway, Slater’s character, Frank Lyons, is kind of exploring the disappearances of some of the teenagers and interacting with Quinn in order to get his recording fix on the least appealing girl of the group, Dee Dee. REALLY?! Christian Slater is obsessed with her?! Her face is fine but her bod is the equivalent to an 8 year-old boy’s, i.e. IT DOESN’T EXIST!
Sorry, but this angered me. If she’s going to give him a lap dance, please actually give him one and please actually wear a sexy outfit and actually have a body. AHHH, I digress and I’m sorry but this was the biggest problem that I had with the entire movie. Who cares about the story when I just want to see Slater naked?!Kidding…I guess.
As for the rest of the movie…I didn’t exactly hate it.
Nickles used an interesting idea, mixing the found-footage element with regular directing and I liked the myth of Louis Le Prince. However, I didn’t enjoy how Quinn actually got possessed; I didn’t really understand how he became possessed. He wasn’t being filmed at the time, nor did he have a recording device on him at the moment, which is how the possessions occurred to the other characters, so…how the hell did he get possessed just by watching the tape? Was I missing something?
I did enjoy Toby Hemingway as Quinn, though. Not only is he good looking, in an unexplainable way, but I think he’s a pretty decent actor and he played the shitfaced asshole to a tee. I found myself feeling shitfaced while watching his performance and he just seemed SICK and demented; in turn, his performance made me sick. Or…maybe I just wasn’t feeling good that night, I don’t know. Either way, I liked him in the movie.
Other than Jennifer Missoni, who played Dee Dee, I thought that the rest of the cast was actually pretty good and their dialogue flowed naturally. Missoni is actually a really pretty girl but I didn’t find her to be obsessive-worthy in the film and she can’t act for crap. Why couldn’t Nickles have cast me in this role so I could have Christian Slater fawn over me? Better yet, why couldn’t it have been Alessandra Torresani who would have been much more believable.
There was an interesting twist on the audience, misleading you to think that one character was the baby from the beginning when it actually turned out to be a character we weren’t expecting at all. At least, I wasn’t expecting it. I enjoyed that part but the rest of the movie was sort of predictable, especially the ending.
I know I have already talked about Slater too much in this post but he was the sole reason that I wanted to see this movie and his character and performance were the best things about it. BUT, he’s hardly in the movie! Nickles totally underused him in the film and if he had used his character more, I think that the movie would have been a whole lot more interesting. There is also a brief appearance by Daryl Mitchell as Julian’s boss that I enjoyed and I would have enjoyed seeing him more in the movie as well.
As I said, I didn’t completely hate this film but I wouldn’t say that it was the best horror of 2012 either. I liked the music and the directing style and there were some enjoyable gory scenes thrown in the mix as well. The spin on the Native American legend, making the supernatural force the devil, was an interesting element for a storyline, however, I didn’t enjoy how the characters actually became possessed; the way that they became possessed was a little corny and stupid in my opinion.
|Toby Hemingway’s “O” face|
And if you go into this movie thinking that you are going to see a lot of Christian Slater action, be warned–you will not get it.
I’d say see this movie when it comes out on DVD. Don’t spend the 10 bucks to rent it VOD because I think it can wait. If you go into the film with high expectations, you will be let down. However, I think if you go into it with an open mind, you may actually have some fun with it, especially when the exploding head shots come up on the screen.