Monday, February 20, 2012

FILM REVIEW: Playback (2012)


"Good judgement comes from experience. Sometimes, experience comes from bad judgement." -Christian Slater

Yup. That's a direct quote from Mr. Christian Michael Leonard Slater himself. Man...he's so right. I cannot count the number of times that I've learned from my own bad judgement. Like the time I woke up in the trunk of a Gremlin in Tijuana, Mexico that one summer. Or like that one time I thought it was a good idea to tussle with a Taiwanese prostitute high on meth because I wanted a refund. I still gotta get my chipped tooth fixed from that incident. Anyway...sometimes you just gotta know that some ideas are just plain bad. Like "what in the fuck are you thinking" kinda bad. And that's when you have to take a look at your long body of work experience and ask yourself: Is playing a perverted sex offender cop really a good idea for my career?

Unfortunately for Mr. Slater, the answer to that fateful question is a resounding FUCK NO!

Let us begin our Playback chit chat, shall we? Might wanna grab yourself a cold Zima. This one's a doozy.


So, we begin with a sort of bizarre kind of Amityville Horror meets The Ring kind of thing. Only...instead of an evil girl climbing out of a television screen, there's a logic-defying premise about a guy named Louis Le Prince from the turn of the 20th century who invented a way of taking souls through film. Not like a photograph...but, something that mooooved. Something made of light...like a ghosss (lol).

Playback opens in 1994 as a Le Prince possessed teenager named Harlan Diehl slaughters his entire family in which to take possession of his inbred child's soul. Until the police c-block his plans of world domination. So, he's left to haunt the dusty confines of a video cassette. Until...the town weirdo releases Le Prince's evil soul to take back the child he fathered with his own sister. So, there's this forced side plot about some aspiring horror filmmaking kid and his friends who are making a high school project film about the Harlan Diehl murders, all the while digging deeper into the entire mystery of what happened almost 20 years ago and the legend of Louis Le Prince. Oh...and Christian Slater plays a cop who whacks off to secretly recorded videos of naked high school girls.

Got all that?

So, I don't blame you if you're sitting around reading this premise thinking to yourself...someone actually made a movie about this fucking mess of a story? And(!)...they got Christian Slater to play a cop who constantly slaps his salami to young naked high school girls. And(!!)...they even got the dude who plays the douchebag dad from the Twisted Sister videos to play a plot device in the form of an old television news reporter in a mental hospital who reveals the biggest plot twist. And(!!![I could do this all day])...Daryl Mitchell, the funny Galaxy Quest brother, shows up as the ultimate plot device in the form of a video store clerk who explains the entire legend of Louis Le Prince...the celluloid devil. You almost kind of wonder if you're watching one of those Scooby Doo episodes where they explain every goddamn thing to you.


It's all pretty fucking silly...and you'll no doubt roll your eyes quite a bit at this shit that someone actually wrote. The dialogue in the film doesn't make things any better. And what's probably most perplexing, is the fact that you have Alessandra Torresani (who is pretty well known for tweeting provocative pics of herself and her friends) in a movie involving secretly recorded videos of hot young high school girls in various stages of undress in their locker rooms and bedrooms and not one goddamn boobie. That's just uncalled for, man.

Anyway...something about high school kids getting offed on their way to a Shiny Toy Guns concert or something. I dunno...it seems kinda pointless to write anything else about Playback. I mean, the film might've been a little more entertaining if Christian Slater committed himself completely to his skeezy role and we followed him around while he sniffs girls' panties and flogged the bishop all over the place. In most of the marketing...he's touted as the main role in the film. I almost thought we were going to be in store for another take on the premise that Keifer Sutherland set up in White Noise...except with video. But, instead, we got a possessed psychopath in a hoodie and stupid teenagers running around doing stupid things. All while Christian Slater waxes the dolphin in the comfort of his living room.


There is one tiny thread of a decent idea in the whole mix that arrives during the final revelation. It might've worked had the rest of the film not been so goddamn contrived and we were watching an altogether better film. However, by the time the final reveal comes...you'll be way too annoyed and done with everything to give any kind of fuck about it.

If I were Michael A. Nickles, I might wanna remove my name from the director credit...because, well...the movie is one big convoluted mess. The gore isn't even that great and the soundtrack feels like they just tried to cram in way too many indie rock hits into one film. Don't get me wrong...I like my Shiny Toy Guns and Kill Hannah almost as much as any hipster...but, the music sometimes distracts a little and you almost feel like you're watching an episode of Gossip Girl. Is that show even on anymore?

Anyway...Playback is best left unplayed. It's available right now on VOD and will probably see the light of a projector this March...just in case you enjoy bad films that involve Mr. Slater romancing his bone. Hopefully Christian can learn from this poor judgement in script decisions. He's what? Like 0 for 3 now in the genre? Unless, you count his minuscule role in Interview with a Vampire. I guess he was ok in that.





Hey there, Alessandra. What'cha doin' sittin' there by your lonesome...all naked and stuff?




Thanks for reading,

bryan.

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