Once you get caught in his lens. You’re captured.


Playback – Another film has again contributed to the deluge of excessive psychological thrillers that base premises is on an idea that was based on another idea of a failed psycho-drama concept. Playback is another one of those films. In this latest psychological thriller from writer/director Michael Nickles, we follow a group of teenagers who mistakenly uncover a hidden secret about their town’s past. What makes Playback different from all those other ill-conceived B-rated teenage horror films? This one stars Christian Slater. But not as a hero.

I’m sure that you all may be familiar with the film The Ring (2002), the Americanized version of the original 1998 Japanese horror film Ring, that involved a cursed video tape that contained freakishly random images. Anyone watching the tape are doomed to an early demise. Playback “plays” on this film concept except the ghost in the video steals the souls of his victims. Once “it” has a soul, “it” could control the body of its former inhabitant. Sorry about that–I am making the movie sound better than it actually is.

Filmmaker or shit stirrer.

Julian (Johnny Pacar) is making a film about the town’s heinous Harlan Diehl family murders for his school project. He enlists the help of his friends to star in the film. Over a short period of time he becomes more interested in the truth behind the murders and asks the town’s social reject, Quinn (Toby Hemingway) for information. Quinn works at the local television station, so it was easy to obtain footage from a news story that did some reporting of the incident. This not only allowed Julian to have easy access to the tapes, but also access to the filming equipment.

Quinn is also connected to Frank Lyons (Christian Slater), a local police officer, who solicits Quinn to “gather” videos of the local high-school girls changing in the locker rooms. The specifics of Slater’s character significance at this point were minimal; what this film didn’t need was a perv cop who also is tasked to serve and protect the very ones he’s peeping on. Hypocrite.

In order for Quinn to get the tapes he needed for Julian he had to ask Officer Lyons to obtain the raw footage seized by the police–in exchange for video of his “favorite girl.” Predictably, Quinn finds the tapes, watches them, becomes possessed by the “spirit” of murderer Harlan Diehl and of course, he is after more souls.

Social outcast.

Quinn now becomes the feature character at this point in the story and Julian and his friends becomes his latest source for Quinn’s gruesome soul stealing endeavors. The film doesn’t pick up the pace until near the end, when all the ‘revelations’ into the murderous events truly begin to present itself. Quinn cleverly uses Frank’s “favorite high school girl” to locate the tapes he was looking for; and it was around this time that Julian found out about his own background and it has something to do with the long-dead Diehl family.

The more gory scenes were brief and if you can get beyond those ‘shaky camera’ scenes intended to make the film seem real somehow, you may be able to endure the entire film. The performances behind Slater, Pacar and Hemingway’s roles were left to be desired. Don’t expect the film to go into an elaborate ‘edge-of-your-seat’ moments. It’s definitely an unoriginal, B-rated rental quality movie.

Overall the trailer is actually better than the entire movie. But don’t let it stop you from watching it.

Artwork and supplementary materials courtesy of © 2011 Magnolia Pictures. All rights reserved.

  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 2 stars
  • Poor

  • Playback
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  • Last modified: 2013-05-26

Review Summary:

Playback - follows a group of high school students who begin to dig into their towns infamous past and unwittingly unlock a dark secret that has been kept hidden for years.

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