You know, for a while now I’ve been really burnt out by found footage films. When the subgenre of horror first came into existence, it was interesting and original, but now it’s all blended together to become a batch of underwhelming, copycat features produced as found footage to avoid having to work around a budget or production technicalities. So, when I received some press about Hooked Up, I was mildly apprehensive because of my previous thoughts on the entire way of filmmaking. However, after viewing the trailer, was more than happy to receive a screener for review. There was just something about the film that grabbed my attention and made me want to watch.
Hooked Up is written and directed by Pablo Larcuen with Eduard Sola. Cast members include Jonah Ehrenreich, Stephen Ohl, Natascha Wiese, and Julia Molins.
“Looking for a good time, two friends on a trip to Barcelona befriend a couple of girls but it’s not fun they find, instead they get trapped in a house haunted by a devilish ghost bent on tearing apart anyone that enters her dwelling.”
As I said before, I’m starting to feel that found footage features are created for the sole purpose of avoiding certain technical aspects of movie making. When I heard that Hooked Up was touted as the first feature film made completely with an iPhone I became even less optimistic. However, putting my reservations aside, I have to say that going forward as found footage really worked for this one. The film makers were able to rent a small, but full scale apartment building. They were able to put more money into the special effects department. And, despite being shot with an iPhone, all of the other departments, including audio and lighting, were professionally done and helped to improve the overall quality of the production.
As far as storyline goes, gosh, the beginning of Hooked Up was boring…I mean, really boring. You can only hear a guy (Stephen Ohl) complain about his ex-girlfriend for about ten minutes before you yourself want to be locked in an apartment building with a knife wielding, psychotic woman. Add on the fact that both characters are typical college “dudes” made me care even less about the unfortunate circumstances about to be forced upon them. Luckily, once the action starts… it really is kind of scary. There was just something about the gritty footage from the iPhone, the backdrop of the hallways and corridors, the masked woman, and the extremely realistic performances from Jonah and Stephen that really hit home with me. It even has one good jump scare! I think it’ll work with a lot of other viewers, too.
Speaking of appeal, there is a definite comparison to be made between Hooked Up and Hostel. In Hooked Up, Americans go to Brazil to party and end up fighting for their lives. In Hostel, Americans go to Czech Republic to party and end up fighting for their lives. Although, I will say the characters in Hostel were much more upset about their torture than in Hooked Up. I know that if my cock was bit so hard that my boxers were saturated with blood, then I’d be freaking the fuck out. Horror fans who enjoyed some pieces of Hostel, but weren’t a fan of the near endless torture porn will dig Hooked Up.
Another thing that worked here was using only two main characters – Peter (Stephen Ohl) and Tonio (Jonah Ehrenreich). When it’s just you and one other person, that one other person is your life line. In this case, I found the relationship between the two men to be particularly interesting. Throughout the course of the film you see their friendship represented in three ways: douchbag party bros, scared friends who work together in a time of trial, and as fearful and paranoid enemies. Basically they go from, “Let’s get laid, motha fucka!” to “I love you, man, how do we get out of here?” to “This is all your fault. Did you bring me here on purpose?” It was a different dynamic that horror fans aren’t used to and I think it should be applauded. Many props to Ohl and Enrenreich for their fantastic performances.
All things considered, Hooked Up was a pretty solid flick. Had it not been for the slow start and a plot twist that I wish hadn’t been twisted about 60% of the way through, I could have rated this much higher. I didn’t even mind that it was found footage by the end of my viewing!
FINAL SCORE: 6.7 out of 10