DreadWorld Review : Hooked Up (2013/15)

One of the greatest things to happen to up and coming film makers over the last decade is the technology available help them realize their vision. No longer do you have to shoot on 16mm or on "ends" renting a camera Thursday night just so you can have it for that extra day to shoot. Now, all you need to do is pick up your phone press the record button and start shooting. It gives everyone with a phone and a few hours to spare a voice - for better or worse.

Accessibility of technology in recent years has led to the exponential growth of the horror sub-genre known as "found footage." While it's become the bane of many horror fans existence since it's inception, there are enough decent "found footage" horror films out there to peak the interest of die hard fans. Pablo Lurcuens' latest film Hooked Up, pushes the "found footage" genre to it's logical end point - it's shot completely on an iPhone. Which I must confess, is a pretty cool "hook" if you will, but it means shit if the film is no good.

Peter's girlfriend just dumped him after seeing him make out with another girl at a party. His best friend, Tonio, has the perfect solution, a boys getaway to the sultry city of Barcelona, where he has days of booze and babes planned for the two of them. Peter has different plans however. His main focus is to get back with his recent ex, which would make one question how he could do that from halfway around the world, but that is least of conceits the film makes. Once in Barcelona, Tonio expends most of his energy trying to get Peter to let loose. Once he finally does he meets statuesque brunette Katia, who invites him, Tonio, and Tonios wasted hook up Noemi, back to her grandmothers old abandoned house for a sexy good time. Needless to say, if that plan actually played out, Hooked Up would be a vastly different film. But this is a horror film, so things fly off the rails in the house very quickly.

When looking at the sub-genre of "found footage" the biggest issue I always have with the films is justifying the reason to keep the camera rolling. Hooked Up doesn't even try to explain why Peter and Tonio are still filming. There is absolutely no reason given, and while that big middle finger to continuity is admirable, ultimately it makes absolutely no sense. When you watch a film it's expected that you will suspend a certain level of disbelief, but asking people who's lives are in mortal danger to put the camera down is way beyond that level of belief suspension. it certainly takes you out of the film and constantly reminds you that "yes, this is a film" which hamstrings most of the tension in a found "footage film." "Found footage" films make their bones on their proximity to reality. We loved Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity because the leap to imagine us as those characters was very small. In Hooked Up, it's impossible to get past the "put the damn camera down and run" thoughts we all have.

It's a shame that Hooked Up can't make it past this very basic conceit because there is a lot to like about the film. The last act, especially the last 15 minutes or so of the film is very good. The twist, at the end, if it even qualifies as one, is also pretty heady and fucked up. It's just a shame that the film drops the ball in so many other areas because with a proper set up, the last act could have meant a hell of a lot more than it ultimately does.

I mentioned the camera conceit earlier, but one might be even able to look past that if the other parts of the film had been working like a well oiled machine. Unfortunately, Hooked Up also makes the cardinal sin of making one of it's leads so damn unlikeable that you can't wait for the fucker to die. No amount of ret-conning in the third act can redeem Tonio from being one of the most annoying characters ever committed to celluloid. He's not funny, he's not cool. He's a dork with a big mouth who deserves to get his ass beat. Which leads to another large part of why Hooked Up fails. Aside from suspending disbelief over the whole "why are they still shooting situation," there is really no reason for Peter to be in Barcelona. He wants to be with his ex-girlfriend who's back in America. Why would he even go to Barcelona? Why would he go with someone like Tonio, who he's not even sure he likes?

Terrible logic, bad set ups, and unlikable characters all add up to Hooked Up falling short. A pretty interesting final act can't salvage the film from mediocrity. You can check out Hooked Up when it hits VOD and DVD later this year.

** stars out of *****

That's it for me. As always, thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

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