DVD REVIEW: HOOKED UP / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: PABLO LARCUEN / SCREENPLAY: PABLO LARCUEN, EDUARD SOLA / STARRING: STEPHEN OHL, JONAH EHENREICH, NATASCHA WIESE, JULIA MOLINS / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 27TH
Pitched as the first feature recorded entirely on an iPhone, you might be forgiven for expecting something from the cheaper, nastier end of the found footage genre. And from the unnecessarily gross opening scene, to the equally grotesque one that bookends the back end of the movie, you’d be right. The characters are all hideous human beings who you will be happy to see the back of, and the conceit of telling the story from somebody’s mobile will have many viewers reaching for the off switch.
And yet the two male leads, in spite of one being exceptionally dull and the other exceptionally irritating, somehow manage to sustain your interest through the film’s 80 minutes. You’ll never quite be rooting for them, but if you surrender to the premise (actually a lot more logical than you might suppose, although the explanation is rather thrown away) you’ll want to know what fates befall them.
Peter (Ohl) has just split up with his girlfriend of six years, and Tonio (Ehenreich) whisks him off to Barcelona for the ultimate hedonistic amnesiac. But Tonio is something of a wild card and before the two boys know what’s happening, they find themselves trapped in an apparently haunted house with only a psychotic ghost for company.
That’s about it. Given the nature of the movie, it’s basically a sequence of very long scenes, usually entirely unbroken (except for discreet edits), and has the potential to be very dull indeed. But the notion that you’re actually watching something real – an idea given weight by the iPhone cinematography – makes the end result more compelling than it really has any right to be. That Hooked Up was written, produced and directed by Spaniards – importing American talent in order to make their film internationally agreeable – lends it a hint of unpredictability, its genealogy going back to films like Tesis as much as The Blair Witch Project. The inclusion of nudity and some startlingly graphic moments is enough to make the observer feel more voyeur than viewer, and is effective and unsettling.
The acting is variable, but that’s essentially a result of the long takes, and kudos goes to both Ohl and especially Ehenreich for carrying the film as well as they do. There is hardly a moment when you don’t believe in what’s happening, no matter how ludicrous it might seem.
The biggest surprise Hooked Up has to offer, though, is the number of names listed in the credits; a testament to how convincing a film they’ve made. This will never be regarded as a great, but it is unexpectedly entertaining and if the iPhone conceit is an indication of things to come, it might have been a lot worse.
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