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Teen Movie Critic - V



Jeff Nelson

Playback is an absolute mess that shouldn't have even been made. Skip it.

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There's so much generic horror crap floating around out there right now that it's an absolute disgrace to the genre. Films such as these are the reason why the horror genre is looked down upon by some of the bigger entities, such as the Academy. These flicks insult the intelligence of the audience and leave us feeling like we have wasted our time and may even turn some viewers away from horror for a while. Well, Playback is another one of these movies. Whether you're an adult, a teenager, or a pre-teen looking for some horror no matter how bad it is, Playback still is a waste of money for both the studios and paying moviegoers. The small redeeming qualities are so minor that they only make an appearance a couple of times for less than ten seconds.

Harlan Diehl slaughtered his family, capturing the deed on video. When students learning about the case watch the tape, they unleash a powerful evil. They become pawns of the malevolent force that threatens to destroy them and their small town. We've all heard about a videotape that has supernatural powers and is able to reach out and kill people. The Ring is a good example of a well-made film based upon such subject matter. However, Playback takes a little bit of a quick turn away from that. Instead, it possess one of the guys to watch the tape to begin murdering to finish his work. Horror movies don't get much more generic and uninteresting than that. All of the characters are irritating and no viewers will want to see any of these characters make it through to the end. Quite a few of them make some of the dumbest decisions a human being could possibly make. Playback constantly attempts to be scary with jump out scares and such. However, they all fail. The small redeeming qualities I mentioned earlier are during the scene where the main character, Julian, is in the video rental store and speaks with a friend about how film captures souls. The plot concept has always intrigued me, although it handles the idea very poorly. The film takes it much too literally and leaves us with a very laughable story that never feels even slightly exciting. The ending is extremely horrendous, as it ends as tacky as it possibly could have. This screenplay should have ended up in the trash can instead of the hands of actors on a set.

When it comes to the acting, it would be unfair to expect anything more than mediocre acting. The script is pretty bad, but I don't believe all of the blame should be placed upon the dialogue. These are simply no-name actors who have difficult getting even slightly into character. I was surprised to hear that Christian Slater would have a supporting role. However, Slater is fine compared to the rest of the cast, although that isn't saying very much. His role isn't a big one and is only on screen for a short amount of time, but his acting is at least alright here. The remainder of the cast desperately needs some more acting lessons in order to learn how to act without overdoing it. It takes all of the believability away from the characters, although the script doesn't exactly help them out. The blame falls on both the dialogue and the actors in this flick.

When it comes to the budget, I was aware that the film was made on a relatively low budget. For the most part, the movie looks acceptable. However, some of the make-up used, especially that on Quinn, who become possessed, looks very cheesy. For those looking for a high-definition transfer, you won't find that here. However, it looks decent for a flick that barely received a theatrical run. It was released in only a few of theaters and then went straight-to-video. The audio quality is suitable for the type of horror movie it is. There's a lot of gimmicky jump scares, so expect quite a bit of the movie to be soft with dialogue and such and then everything getting really loud for the "scares." Audiences actually get to be immersed a bit here with some ambiance coming through the surrounds. The most disappointing aspect of this audio track is most certainly the bass. It's sloppy and is far too reserved for a movie that's supposed to rely on loud sounds.

Those of you who enjoy having bad movie nights, you have hit the jackpot. This is one of the worst horror movies I have seen in a while. It takes every horror cliché and amplifies it to irritating proportions. The story isn't interesting or scary at all. There's absolutely nothing scary or creepy about this movie. It attempts to use the gimmicky jump scares to "scare" us, but that falls flat on its face. The acting is under mediocre and you'll find yourself face-palming quite often from the dialogue delivery. The visuals are alright for a movie such as this, although I expected a better sound design for something that's supposed to be relying so much on the audio. The closest this movie gets to having a redeeming quality is in the video rental store scene and then the concept is taken so literally that all of the possible fun that could have been there has been ripped out of the flick. Playback is an absolute mess that shouldn't have even been made. Skip it.

My Rating = One and One Half Stars

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