Hooked Up is being billed as the first full length movie shot on an iPhone, and if that was all it had going for it, I’m not sure I would’ve bothered watching. However, I’m glad to say it’s far more than that. Once it gets going, Hooked Up is a pretty kick ass horror flick that manages to rise above the typical found footage, and Hostel clones.
Roommates and best friends Peter and Tonio have girl problems; Peter is despondent over the breakup with his girlfriend, and Tonio wants to get laid. In an effort to cheer his friend up, Tonio plans a vacation in Barcelona with promises of drunken debauchery. Reluctant at first, Peter ultimately agrees, and off they go, taking video every step of the way.
Once in Barcelona the duo head out into the night, and after a couple of misadventures involving the boyfriend of a girl Tonio tried to pick up, they meet and hook up with two beautiful women. With only one bed back at the hotel, Peter’s girl suggests going to her house. Tonio and his girl who’s too drunk to really care, come along, and from there, things go downhill for the guys.
This is a basic set up we’ve seen before, with characters that almost seem to be stereotypes of the bro. However, Stephen Ohl and Jonah Ehrenreich inject a likability into the two, despite neither one really being a hero. Ehrenreich’s Tonio is not always an appealing character, and at times you kick yourself for wanting to root for him, what saves it, is there’s no malice in his actions. Tonio is simply a 20 something who is thinking about his needs more than anything else. Ehrenreich does a great job with the role, and despite his less than sympathetic Tonio, there’s still a charming rakishness to him. More important his character is consistent in his actions. So many times we see someone behave one way, only to act another way simply to suit the story. Not here, the director/writer Pablo Larcuen is too smart to fall into that trap.
Stephen Ohl shines as Peter. From the moment we first see him hunched over a toilet bowl puking his guts out, to having his dick bitten, he’s the everyman that we identify with for most of the film. Ohl has a presence on screen and has the ability to truly invoke whatever feeling he has in the audience. Together they make a great team. You really believe that they’re truly friends, as the chemistry with Ohl and Ehrenreich is especially strong. When Peter is taking a bath, and Tonio comes in and pees in it, it feels real. You can imagine these two pulling pranks on each other. The term bros before hos never had a better definition than these two.
While found footage movies are a dime a dozen, if not cheaper, Larcuen does a great job in keeping the idea fresh, and turning the Hostel like ideas on its head. When we see a movie like this, more often than not, women are the victims, who end up running around for half the movie in their underwear; in Hooked Up Peter and Tonio are the victims and end up spending the last third or so of the movie in their boxer briefs. Kudos to Larcuen for breaking boundaries and trying something different.
As much as I like Hooked Up, it’s not a perfect movie by any means. A full half hour passes before we even get to the house, and by that time, I grew a little tired of the drunken shenanigans. In spite of a brisk 78 minute running time, there are some pacing issues once we get to the house, and while it didn’t make me fast forward, it did make my finger a little itchy to do so. The writing is top notch however. In the interview with Ohl, he mentioned that part of the movie had the dialog improvised, and it’s a testament to Larcuen that you can’t tell where improv ends and the script begins-more so since English is his second language.
Julia Molins and Narascha Wiese do a great job as the girls Tonio and Peter hook up with. I don’t want to say much more about them so as not to spoil anything, but trust me, you won’t forget either of them.
The gore effects, and there are plenty, are very well done. There were a couple that even made me wince, something nearly impossible to do. As for the fact that Hooked Up was shot entirely on an iPhone (three of them in fact), you wouldn’t know it from looking at it. Hooked up is good looking, sharp, and belies the limited budget. With so much crap out there, it’s nice to see an indie movie that takes pride in itself, and does whatever it takes to look its best.
Hooked up will be available on VOD April 7th, and on DVD June 9th. Check it out for a good horror movie that doesn’t rely on jump scares in lieu of actual tension.
Hooked UP Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hookedup?ref=profile
Also, check out the interview I had with Stephen Ohl today over the phone. He talks about Hooked Up, as well as his own short film, I Wasn’t Me, and a video series he did on artist Asa Jackson. He was a great guy to talk to, and for anyone with an interest in creativity, his videos on Jackson are a must watch.