Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: Pablo Larcuen
Writer: Pablo Larcuen, Eduard Sola
Producer: Emi Fort, Pablo Larcuen
Stars: Stephen Ohl, Jonah Ehenreich, Natascha Wiese, Julia Molins
Two friends vacationing in Barcelona become trapped in a haunted house after hooking up with the wrong girl at a nightclub.
The original poster for “Hooked Up” makes much ado about the movie being “the first feature film shot entirely with an iPhone,” as if that claim is an enticing enough reason to see it, much less an assurance of value on that basis alone. I’m not advocating that quality motion pictures can only come from elaborate IMAX setups or complicated camera systems, but if you juxtapose images of legendary directors perched behind Panavisions against someone hoisting a cellphone in the film camera’s place, well, one of those things is not like the other.
The second thing the movie’s marketing material wants audiences to know is that “Hooked Up” is “presented by” Jaume Collet-Serra, director of several big-budget Liam Neeson thrillers as well as genre offerings “Orphan” and the “House of Wax” remake. “Presented by” is usually Hollywood-speak for “peripherally involved for name recognition only,” which appears to be the case here. With Collet-Serra having a Barcelona background similar to the filmmakers, my money is on “favor for a friend” as the reason for his association. If not that, then blackmail.
Having seen “Hooked Up,” I can surmise why the promotional blurbs glom onto the movie’s iPhone origins and Jaume Collet-Serra’s vague credit as primary points worth touting. Because frankly, there isn’t a whole lot else to say about “Hooked Up” that could possibly attract anyone looking for even barely passable horror entertainment.
Partially to ease the pain of his roommate being dumped, obnoxious Tonio brings slightly less obnoxious Peter along for a five-day romp overseas. The best bros then spend their first afternoon abroad bounding around a beautiful Barcelona breach admiring exotic Spanish beauties. Presumably, anyway. Despite being a juvenile horndog of the highest order, Tonio apparently prefers to talk about a “chick in a red bikini” that revved his engine instead of actually recording her. In fact, Tonio doesn’t seem to record anything at all between the nondescript Newark airport and drab hotel room interior. Tonio instead preserves his valuable phone memory to capture video of him jumping on the bed like a three-year-old, peeing into his pal’s bathtub, peeing into a beer glass to play a prank at a bar, and engaging in all manner of generally dickish behavior to make you question why your time is being spent watching activity so pointlessly lame.
“Hooked Up” is only 70-something minutes long, yet cannot find material to fill that space that isn’t annoying, boring, or both at the same time. Look no further for proof than an opening scene featuring an uninterrupted three minutes of Peter puking into a toilet.
Eventually, the dynamic dullards pick up a pair of local hotties during a nightclub bender. One of the ladies suggests hitting up her grandparents’ abandoned old house for a nightcap, since following strangers to unknown locations in foreign countries always leads to beneficial results for American tourists in horror movies. Of course, the house is a haunted trap and the girl who led them there may or not be a ghost looking to avenge some injustice vaguely identified via newspaper clipping read in screamed dialogue that is barely decipherable. Overdramatic panic ensues and the remaining hour or so is spent with Tonio and Peter repeatedly running into locked doors, barbed wire windows, or a knife-wielding weirdo wearing a white mask.
“Hooked Up” is so uninspired that criticisms of its components cannot help but read like clichés, too. Characters not worth caring about. Lousy jump scares fabricated with artificial audio pops whenever a cupboard door is opened or a shape appears around a corner. Dreadful dialogue actually includes lines like, “I’m too young to die” without a remote hint of irony.
Events routinely take place that don’t lead to payoffs of any kind. For instance, the two buddies discover a walkie-talkie and also become inexplicably doused in gasoline, yet no one arrives from the other end of the radio and no one ignites in a ball of flame, either. Unsure if there is any honest intention at all behind anything happening in the movie, I’m awarding it one star out of five simply for the sake of mercy.
If you’re on the side of the “found footage” debate that despises the subgenre, “Hooked Up” will only reaffirm that hatred. If you’re a proponent of the first-person format, “Hooked Up” is cause to consider crossing over that line and joining the pitchfork and torch-bearing camp with everybody else.
Review Score: 20