Hooked Up has one of the most intriguing premises in recent memory—a haunted house film shot entirely on an iPhone. In this day and age of technological dominance, it was only a matter of time before someone did it. But a haunted house film? I was more than excited. An entry in the 2013 Stiges Film Festival and was produced by Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan), I was really looking forward to checking out this Spanish horror fest.
Unfortunately, this sort of project also lends itself to the pitfalls of one of the most aggravating clichés in horror: the handheld camera point-of-view. Films such as [REC], The Blair Witch Project and even Cloverfield really knocked the POV angle out of the park by not overdoing it and making sure to TURN THE CAMERA OFF ONCE IN A WHILE. The idea of two people keeping their iPhone video running while they fight for their lives inside of a genuinely haunted house is absurd. [REC] did it best when at some of the most tense moments of the film, the camera would suddenly freeze, stutter or shut down. But here we’re subjected to roughly 15 minutes of unnecessary and unbelievable footage. Sadly, that saps a lot of the potential tension from this flick.
Hooked Up focuses on Peter (Stephen Ohl), a young man struggling with the fact that he’s been recently dumped, and Tonio (Jonah Ehrenreich), his loud-mouthed friend who seems to only be interested in sex and booze. The two immediately spark a “frat boy” image considering we first meet Peter as he is puking his brains out and Tonio suggests what he needs to rebound is a trip to Barcelona. Whenever I have a bad day, I play Madden in my boxers and eat ice cream out of the carton. I assume Tonio and Peter are living in a different tax bracket than I am. It’s hard to ever root for these guys.
Upon arriving in Barcelona, the film consists of roughly ten minutes of bar-hopping shenanigans until the two main characters meet Noemi (Julia Molins) and Katia (Natascha Wiese). Noemi is a particularly difficult character to watch because she’s portrayed as so out-of-her-mind drunk that it’s hard to stomach the idea that Tonio can’t wait to get her alone in a bedroom. Katia, meanwhile, is a brunette bombshell who is ready and willing to make Peter forget all about his ex-girlfriend. Katia invites the group to go to her grandparents’ house, where “the house is old but the beds work.”
The quartet arrives at the home and it doesn’t take long before the gratuitous nudity and the horror story unfold.
This film won’t be for everyone. Honestly, I’d argue anyone but a family member of the cast and crew would have anything nice to say about it. I was put off quite a bit by an extensive vomit scene at the beginning of the film and I’m never a fan of porno-esque scenes in horror films, especially. There is also quite a bit not to like about Tonio, who incessantly spits such macho lines as “she doesn’t deserve any respect” when talking about his buddy’s ex-girlfriend and worms his way into a sexual encounter with an extremely inebriated young woman. These elements turned my stomach more than any of the “horror” portrayed in the film. Tonio is one of those guys that the term “douche” was created for and he, in part, is the protagonist.
All in all, Hooked Up seems to be a film made out of a love for the genre. Director Pablo Larcuen had a great idea for a potentially ground-breaking film. The “twist” at the end of the film had some true merit to it, too, but even that gets lost in the film’s confusing decisions. With more focus on character and dialogue, and putting the camera down once in a while, there could be an entertaining storyline here. As is, Hooked Up just doesn’t add up for me.