Directed by Michael Nickles
Starring Christian Slater, Ambyr Childers and Toby Hemmingway
Nearly 20 years after a family is massacred in their home, a group of high school kids decide to do a class project based on the murders. In the process of uncovering information on the event they unwittingly release the evil spirit of the murderer who has been imprisoned in the video tapes of the crime. Once set loose, the spirit hops from teenager to teenager, with the help of hidden cameras in the girls locker room, and students bedrooms, leaving a trail of dead bodies in its quest to find one particular soul to take over. That soul belongs to Julian (Johnny Pacer) and as the movie progresses Julian discovers not only how the evil spirit is able to take over those who watch the images on film but also discovers his own disturbing link to the murders.
With all this going on, there is an inconsequential side-story which develops around creepy deputy sheriff Frank Lyons (Christian Slater), a pedophile peeping-Tom who feeds his desires by buying flash-drives filled with images of local high school girls in various states of undress, from a disturbed youth who works for the local television station.
Part ghost story, part slasher flick, for seasoned horror fans Playback really brings nothing new to the table as far as a story-line goes. An evil spirit on the rampage, meddling teenagers getting into trouble and putting themselves in peril. A few murder scenes dispersed along the way which had the potential to shock but were wasted efforts due to poor editing which reduced them all to a quick blur of blood and gore that is barely registered with the naked eye. Teenagers played by 30 year old actors didn’t help the already shaky believability-factor of the story either. It seems the films creators were more interested in filling the screen with pretty faces as opposed to creating believable characters…..thats Hollywood though. And what on Earth was Christian Slater doing playing a pedophile in a low-end slasher flick? Not sure if that’s really a good career move right there but….. whatever pays the bills I guess.
With a budget of 7.5 million, I was only left wondering, “Where did all that money go?” Roger Corman could have made a dozen bad movies for that much money, and Iam fairly certain they would have grossed more then 252 dollars in their opening weekend, which is exactly how much Playback pulled in. (That is not a typo) If your ok with the same old uninspired, mass produced Hollywood horror-fare and your expectations are low, you might find it worthy of a rental. Otherwise I might suggest skipping on this one.
The special features are pretty standard, a “behind the scenes” featurette, photo gallery & Trailer
I’d rate it a 4 out of 10
Reviewed by KennyB