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First Look Review - Hooked Up

Two friends holidaying in Barcelona meet a pair of mysterious local girls.


Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Pablo Larcuen

Starring: Jonah Ehrenreich, Júlia Molins, Stephen Ohl


The most typical (and tiresome) complaint about found footage horror is the perennial question of why, whilst undergoing terrifying and live threatening situations, characters would keep filming instead of ditching the camera and running. There’s also the query concerning the unlikelihood of them capturing the in-between down time too; those odd bits and bobs that conveniently bridge the narrative, but which anyone would be doubtful to film in real life. Such criticisms need not be levelled at Hooked Up though, as from the off, it is abundantly clear that jock-the-lads Tonio (Jonah Ehrenreich) and Peter (Stephen Ohl) are so self-absorbed and arrogant that it is entirely probable they would film every last second of their weekend excursion to Barcelona, whether it be them scoring, being boring, or getting a goring. We open, after all, with a tone setting extended sequence of Peter vomiting (actually being sick, it seems- ugh) and crying over his ex-girlfriend, while macho Tonio rips it out of him for being such a wimp. Such a good pal is Tonio that he books the two a flight to Barcelona, for the dual purpose of ‘getting so much puss-ay’ and helping pukey Pete get over the ex-factor. Lads on tour, or lambs to the slaughter?
And so Hooked Up treads a similar Euro trip path as the guys from Hostel all those years ago; expect crazy night life, impossibly hot foreign babes who hide deadly secrets, and any frat boy bluster to face a serious comeuppance by the end of the running time. Impressively filmed on an iphone, for the most part Hooked Up is carried along by its own testosterone. Writer/Director Pablo Larcuen’s script makes Tonio and Peter such an unlikeable pair that we can’t wait for something awful to happen to them, and there are playful moments where Tonio’s swagger is eventually shot down by Peter (‘It took you 23 years to convince someone to sleep with you’, ‘I’m American now’, ‘You were always American’). Their quest eventually leads them to an exclusive bar, where they rendezvous with the falling down drunk Katia (Natascha Wiese) and the sleek, panther like Noemi (Júlia Molins). Sexy Noemi invites the party back to her place; a secluded mansion with deep basements, lights that don’t seem to work properly, and lots and lots of corridors to run down in a handheld panic.
And it is here, when the actual horror starts, that Hooked Up’s braggadocio and macho energy suffers from a case of the prematures. Noemi reveals her insidious nature by biting into Peter’s, um, peter, and then we’re plunged into the usual crash bang wallop of slammed doors, flitting shadows, and cuts that jump between indecipherable scrambling about in the dark and then back to deep n’ meaningful bro confessions. The value of found footage in horror is that it helps us to identify fluently with a given character, and can confine our perception to theirs (think of Heather descending the steps in The Blair Witch Project) creating terror from what could be happening off screen. But this is also the limitation of the format; we have no idea of the wider space and scope of the menacing surroundings, and none of the ‘it’s behind you’ dramatic irony that provides films of this particular pedigree with its power (Hooked Up is basically a haunted house flick). What we’re left with is the usual cattle prods of slams and jumps, which sort of lose their effect when you’re squinting to see what you’ve jolted at.
As the film limps towards the final scenes, there is a moment where Tonio follows the demonic Noemi which is deliciously creepy, utilising a nasty sound design and a simple, but unsettling, mask to weird effect. However, for the most part of the film’s latter half, Hooked Up is as lost as its characters, wandering around in the dark, attempting to make sense of its surroundings, never quite finding its way.




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