A found footage horror film which opens with one of its young, white, laddish protagonists throwing up into a toilet while his idiot friend films it all, incessantly jabbering about all of the girls he intends to lay during their lads’ holiday in Barcelona: if first impressions are anything to go by, Hooked Up is likely to have as many people turning off their TV as the ladies will be (turned off, that is) by the behaviour on display.
Stick with it though, for beyond the Hostel-esque opening (featuring some attitude that makes the young lads of The Inbetweeners look positively civilised by comparison) there’s a very solid horror film to be found, with surprisingly top-notch action and very decent scares. Not bad considering they filmed it all on an iPhone. Wait, what?
It’s to the filmmakers’ credit (or perhaps Apple’s) that I didn’t realise Hooked Up had been filmed entirely on an iPhone until I did a little reading on the subject afterwards. The conceit stretches the usual “why are they still filming?” question practically to breaking point, but it’s a fine accomplishment nevertheless. And once the screaming starts, you’ll barely have time for such questions anyway. Picking up a pair of girls in a bar, our holiday heroes accompany them back to a dingy apartment block, where they expect sex to ensue. Alas, their expectations are destined to go unfulfilled – it’s not long before the lights go out, the doors are locked and something terrible is trying to kill them all. Add to that a little bleeding from the penis and a terrifying masked ghost set on vengeance, and Hooked Up has itself quite the combination.
Found footage, an apartment block in Barcelona and supernatural forces of evil? Hooked Up invites some very unwise comparisons to a certain Spanish zombie movie, but thankfully manages to do enough of its own thing to get trapped in the shadow of classics. Those with a predisposed disdain towards found footage are unlikely to have their minds changed by this immature effort, but it at least packs in enough scares and genuine shocks to avoid accusations of complacency. Once the horror element starts, it never lets up, making the most of its scant 78 minute running time. A lot of that relies on hysterical screaming and stupid decisions, but the nature of the situation makes it easy to overlook the inherent unlikeability of the film’s characters. Jonah Ehrenreich’s horrible moustache, however, is unforgivable (think Justin Long or Carrie Brownstein in Portlandia, except much worse).
An ingenious little blast of a movie, Hooked Up manages to recover from its fairly weak start, turning into one of the better found footage pieces in recent years. It’s far from original and its characters are awful (although that would be the point) but it should have viewers hooked (up) in no time at all.
Joel Harley (@JoelHarley)
HOOKED UP is released in the UK on April 27