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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hack! starts as seven college students & their teacher Mr Argento
(executive producer & producer Mike Wittlin) that signed up for a
biology project board a boat & sail to a small isolated island owned by
husband & wife Vincent (Sean Kanan) & Mary Shelley King (Juliet Landau)
to study the indigenous wildlife, what could possibly go wrong? Well
the fact that Vincent & Mary Shelley are both homicidal snuff film
makers who are working on their masterpiece & want our bunch of teens
to star in it could cut their careers in biology rather short...
Written & directed by Matt Flyn this a is a fairly good teen slasher that could have been better but could just have easily been worse. The script which never takes itself too seriously is a fan-boy geeks wet dream come true, it's absolutely stuffed with film references, homages, rip-offs & clichés. In fact I don't think I've ever seen another film as blatant as Hack! when it comes to stealing dialogue, situations, name-checking actors & referring to loads of other films. From lines like 'was Psycho shot here?' to discussions on their favourite horror films to an Indiana Jones rip-off as someone does some fancy karate moves before someone just shoots him to bits of scenery like the boat which is called the Orca definitely as in the killer whale flick Orca (1977) then the snuff film makers base their film on other films like The Birds (1963), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) & Hellraiser (1987) among others to the way someone talks about the people on the island in terms of film clichés & several character's are named after horror film icons, Mr Argento anyone? This constant self referential fan-boy dialogue is fun at times but does get a bit old as literally every opportunity is used to slip a film title, cliché or homage into the story. Then there's the fact that the snuff film doesn't really feature that much or is particularly relevant, basically this is a Friday the 13th (1980) teen slasher with a thin snuff film sub plot that doesn't amount to much except for a few throw away lines at the end. Then there's the character's who are alright but not brilliant, the teens aren't too annoying but why did Vincent suddenly turn on his wife Mary Shelley & kill her? There's no reason, motivation or explanation for it at all. Then there's that Scottish guy Willy, where the hell did he come from & who was he? He is never given any back-story & just suddenly turns up without any satisfactory explanation.
Director Flyn does a pretty good job here, it's well made & it actually looks like a proper film which many low budget horrors can't boast. It's not overly stylish or imaginative but it looks nice enough. I wouldn't say it's scary as it's too silly. The gore is decent but it definitely feels like an 'R' rated film, the blood & violence just seems restrained & quite brief. There are decapitations, severed limbs, someone gets a hook through the back of their head, someone is killed with a chainsaw & their severed upper torso is seen, someones head is bashed with a mallet, someone gets an axe in the stomach, someone gets a chunk of flesh bitten from their neck, someone falls down a well & is impaled on branches/spikes at the bottom, someone gets a axe in the shoulder, people are shot with arrows & there are several shotgun kills including a shot of the back of someones head exploding open.
With a supposed healthy sounding budget of about $2,000,000 technically the film is good, everything considered even impressive. Most low budget horror flicks don't look anywhere near as good as this. The special effects are good with the absolute minimum usage of horrible CGI & the satisfying use of proper on set special make-up prosthetic effects. The acting is alright I suppose, the teen cast is suitably good looking both boys & girls even though personally I'm only interested in the girls.
Hack! is an OK teen slasher, forget about the snuff film angle because it doesn't feature that prominently & therefore it's a silly Friday the 13th clone which has some decent gore & some amusing fan-boy dialogue although it does get old before it's end. If your a horror fan then Hack! is well worth a watch especially when you consider the crap that gets released these days, definitely one of the better low budget horror film from this year.
It seems like the writer is a big fan of horror movies with the
countless references to many horror classics. I don't think that the
actors are the problem of this film, but more so the dialogue. Some of
the actors are actually really good, but not in this film, a lot of the
dialogue just makes them sound stupid. The writing is really horrible
in this. There is no investment in the characters, you don't really
care about any of them.
It seems to me that this film is trying to be a homage to horror films, but instead looks like film saying "Hey, look at me, I like horror films." This isn't just a bad horror movie, it's a bad attempt at a horror movie.
This movie is, above all else, confused. It tries to talk you into believing that it's a tribute to classic campy slasher films, it dazzles you with good production design, cinematography and some fairly decent actors, but ultimately it turns to tired slapstick and surrealism without purpose, all courtesy of the only horrifying aspect of this movie; the script! Maybe it isn't a tribute, maybe it's meant as satire or some kind of black comedy? I can't tell! Even if that's the case, it's not funny because the jokes are mostly based around how unfunny horror movies are, and this is clearly one of those unfunny horror movies. Violence is plentiful and graphic, like the genre prescribes, but it is only there as a reference to other films or for purely gratuitous purposes, so in effect it's either unoriginal or holding up the story. The characters are consistently written in a way that at best, makes you not care about them at all and at worst, quietly hoping that they are next in line for swift death. If a bunch of college kids had made this movie and put it on the Internet, it would have been sort of an impressive effort. As a "real" Hollywood movie, it's depressing and begs the question; Who the hell would green-light a script like this? My advice: pick any one of the 20+ classic horror movies that this movie references and watch that again, odds are good that you'll have a better time!
Some things, despite being good, should never have happened: N.W.A.
caused the creative hip-hop of the 80s to be buried underneath hordes
of unpleasant gangsta rappers; Disney-Pixar's magical films have
replaced the charm of hand-drawn animation with sterile CGI; postmodern
horror classic Scream launched a thousand dull horror films that
thought they were clever. Which brings me to Hack!, a film that very
much follows Scream's template, with a touch of (underdeveloped)
reality TV satire. Seven students and their teacher come to an island
for a biology project; soon, of course, they are being hacked apart.
Hack! tries to freshen up its slasher clichés by introducing a snuff
twist, but it adds nothing to the film other than some annoying shots
through an old-fashioned, wind-up camera, while the way the film
tempers its classical horror references (The Birds, Psycho, Texas
Chainsaw Massacre) with more modern phenomena (Saw, cult TV series
Desperate Housewives, reality show Survivor) feels like a desperate bid
to be hip.
Technically, this film is a mess. Shots slip randomly in and out of focus: some are a few seconds long, some scenes continue far after their end; continuity seems to have been deliberately disregarded, the music seems to be totally unrelated to what is happening on the film (I believe if you listen to your favourite album while you watch, a la Dark Side of the Rainbow, it will match up better); in one scene, it is so clear stock footage is being used that you feel a bit embarrassed.
The script fares no better: moronic characters spout film references with such unsubtlety that every gentle nod is a headbutt, every playful nudge an elbow in the ribs. The acting is appallingly inane (other than the always-lovely Danica McKellar's turn as Emily) and plot holes gape at you at every moment: characters act with no motivation, every boy and girl couple up despite having nothing in common. In spite of all its flaws, however, there is something likable about Hack!. I can't for the life of me place what it is, but it's there. This is a film, bless it, that really tries hard, but it ultimately fails. It fails because it wallows in its own stupidity while trying to be all clever-clever with the audience, it fails because it believes that pointing out that it is full of clichés prevents the clichés from being boring, and it fails because its constant self-referentiality soon becomes a drag. People, it's been eleven years since Scream; surely it's time for a new horror bandwagon?
In the end, while I would sincerely like to declare this film a cult classic, I cannot possibly score it in the upper half of scores - so it gets a 4, the highest score a bad film can get.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A class trip to an island turns into a nightmare as the college
students hoping for a high grade to boost their GPA fall prey to their
hosts, a married couple, obsessed film buffs, who record those they
murder in ways associated with horror movies.
This, at first, appears to be just another formula slasher. You have a check list of stereotypes that normally appear in slashers and can pretty much mark an X by the characters who will die as the film continues. But, what sets it apart from the fray of the usual is the wicked sense of humor, expert casting of genre veterans, and some perverse acts by a bizarre couple of psychos. But, also important is that HACK! actually plays against norm in that a guy actually is the one at the end fleeing from killers. And, a specific twist regarding a third(..and possibly fourth)party perhaps involved with the psychotic duo certainly adds to the terror for our hero, Jay Kenneth Johnson(..as the hunk Johnny)as he must find a way out a very sticky situation as his friends are dead and his options of escape are limited. Danica McKellar(..the cutie from Wonder Years)is "nerded" up as the unflappable, scholarly Emily, but we all know that a pair of glasses and braided hair can not mask the babe underneath the disguise. Emily is google-eyed for Johnny, who, in a change of pace for a slasher film, actually takes up for her when fellow classmates poke fun at her supposed dorky nature..yet, Johnny is still able to gain rapport with his fellow students because he's just a cool dude. The rest of cast are merely supplying cultural stereotypes bound for violent death..a dumb, impolite jock quarterback needing a high grade to make his football team, a sexpot, a foul-mouthed, weed-smoking skank, an Asian homosexual whose sexual orientation is the butt of many jokes and gags, and the token black character who supplies the pot, talks ghetto and is always trying to dial up someone on his cellphone that doesn't work(..imagine that). Most of these characters service the film as victims running through the island woods as the predators give chase. There's a dungeon the loonies have, a chamber of horrors where destroyed victims, grisly corpses, are used as set-pieces for memorable images in movies like Hellraiser & Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and one captured character is held in a large bird cage over a piranha-infested water hole!
Surprising number of recognizable faces pop up in minor parts such as Kane Hodder(..as the opening victim trying to escape from his pursuers), Burt Young(..as a crusty boat captain who takes the crew to the island), Tony Burton(..as nervous Sheriff Stoker, who worries that something dire has happened to the kids when they don't return;he has a scene with ROCKY co-star Burt Young which might bring a grin to fans' faces), William Forsythe(..as a gruff Irish island fisherman who attempts to save the day, and has some memorable exchanges with the psychos), and Lochlyn Munro(..as Burton's moronic deputy). Lots of in-jokes such as the names of the crazies, Vincent King(Sean Kanan, whose chiseled features and clean-cut looks adds a unique dimension to his nutcase)and Mary Shelley(Juliet Landau;who's always obviously a bit weird, her camera by her side at all times ready to record even the most mundane occurrences for a "new movie"). Even the professor, who is to chaperon the students, is named Mr. Argento(..nice!). There also an abundance of references to horror classics and iconic characters popping up in the dialogue. This is made by filmmakers who love the genre and try to express that in as many ways as possible. The violence derives from an ax, hand gun(..rarely a weapon used in horror) shot gun(..makes a real bloody mess of a victim's skull), thrown loose brick, a well(..the homage to The Grudge is quite an eye-opener), clown's hammer(!), chainsaw, and a spinning saw blade(..decapitating a bound person's leg as he screams in horror). A thrown saw blade decapitates a victim whose leaning up against a tree. Lots of gore and viscera. Gabrielle Richens as Sylvia, a foreign exchange student lusting for the quarterback, is quite a looker. Once McKellar is able to shed her geeky disguise..yummy. Slasher fans might embrace this one..it's dark heart is in the right place.
Hack! is one of those tongue-in-cheek scary movies that thinks it's
being original, witty and clever by referencing past horror classics
and playing on the stereotypes and clichés of the genre, when in fact,
nothing could be further from the truth: loading a film with
exaggerated characters named after well-known horror icons, and having
them make post-modern observations and spout self-conscious dialogue is
not only a very stale routine, but in this particular case also
somewhat insulting to its intended horror-savvy audience, to whom these
nods to the movies they love will seem extremely obvious and rather
Fortunately, as tired and predictable as the format may be, the film does have its positives, in the very welcome form of juicy gore and tasty babes! Director Matt Flynn wisely sees fit to include plenty of splattery kills, including a bloody chainsaw attack, a gory hook through the eye, and a shotgun blast to the head, and the fine selection of hotties include one time Buffy vamp Juliet Landau, the stunning Gabrielle Richens (who happily gets her ample norks out), and Danica McKellar of The Wonder Years fame, who regrettably keeps her kit on, thus disappointing the legion of pervs who always wondered what a grown up Winnie might look like in the buff.
Throw in a creepy clown, killers dressed in Japanese costume for absolutely no reason, and a pool of piranha, and what you have is a very cheesy, non-essential popcorn flick that won't win any awards for originality, but which is just about daft enough, sexy enough and silly enough for it to still warrant a watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I actually really dig the premise behind the movie.
Lets say more tongue in check and exploratory of horror clichés then Scream, but not a full blown spoof like Scary Movie.
Aesthetically the casting was really good. The jock, the slutty girl, the alt chick etc etc. But the acting, even though I'm sure the directing was half to blame, just let most of the scenes down. Had there been better chemistry between the actors, it could've worked a lot better. The characterisation also seemed as though it couldn't decide on how certain aspects of the characters were being represented.
Actually the whole movie didn't know how to represent itself. I remember thinking 'is this a spoof?' a few times half way through, and honestly, I wasn't sure until the very end. Even though there were parts that were pretty obviously 'spoof like' they just came across as bad, or illogical. E.g. When you find out the nerd girl was bad, and you remember how she was acting at the start of the movie, and when she was by herself getting on the boat etc. Just illogical.
For the movie to have been truly effective as a newly invented sub genre. The 'Suprise Spoof', lol. It really had to have been a GOOD horror movie for the first two thirds. Even if it was in a clichéd horror way, it just had to have been well shot, and well acted. But alas it just plain sucked.
This movie doesn't even deserve a review this long, but there's two other things I want to mention. It canes me that Juliet Landau was cast in this cos that most probably means the guy that made it is a Buffy fan. As a Buffy fan I want to hurt him.
Also the only reason I gave this two stars instead of one, which is fairly akin to giving one star as you can't give zero (which I figure is because it would mess up the combined ratings), was for the shining scene, because it wasn't expected and was overall a neat reference.
(reviewed after first viewing)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Written and directed by Matt Flynn, this medium-budget SCREAM-inspired
slasher is full of horror film references and in-jokes, many of which
are far too obvious, annoying and in-your-face to be even remotely
amusing, while a few are kind of clever and more obscure when they
aren't blatantly pointing out the film to us. Despite the very low
rating here on IMDb (2.7 as of this writing), I think enough effort was
put into this to make it watchable and it was entertaining for the most
part. HACK! opens with a man being decapitated with a saw before
cutting to a bunch of college students who seem obsessed with, and
never stop talking about, various horror films. The characters are your
usual stereotypes, though this film at least tries to give us a reason
for that. We have sweet, geeky, pretty teaching assistant Emily (Danica
McKellar), good-looking nice guy Johnny (Jay Kenneth Johnson), hot
big-breasted foreign exchange student Sylvia (Gabrielle Richens),
obnoxious football jock Tim (Travis Schuldt), "flamboyant" gay Asian
Ricky (Justin Chon), pot-smoking black guy Q (Won-G) and trashy
alternative chick Maddy (Adrienne Frantz). They, along with their
professor Mr. Argento (producer Mike Wittlin), go to a nearly-secluded
island for a science-related field trip that no one actually seems to
care about once they get there. A friendly and equally film-obsessed
couple; Mary Shelley (Juliet Landau) and Vincent King (Sean Kanan, also
a producer) put the students up for the weekend and naturally, someone
in the group starts killing off the others. It seems that Mary and
Vincent are actually amateur filmmakers themselves and want to shoot
their own "reality horror" (i.e. snuff) movie using the students as
their victims. There are also a few expected twists you may or may not
Despite the rampant clichés, countless movie references (HELLRAISER, THE RING, DEAD CALM, FATAL ATTRACTION and JAWS, just to name a few) and the often-annoying non-stop chatter about various horror films, it's upbeat, energetic, fairly well-made when it comes to editing, photography and fx and gives slasher fans the gore and nudity they expect to see. The whole cast look like they had a good time making it and sometimes a little enthusiasm goes a long way, as is the case with this one. Kane Hodder appears in a one-scene cameo at the beginning and there are also cameos by Burt Young of ROCKY fame (playing the boat captain who shuttles the students to the island) and William Forsythe (as some kind of long-haired Scottish or Irish survivalist type who also lives on the island).
No, it's definitely a B-movie, but it has a few things going for it.
First, it has decent production values and an acceptable look. This is
not some film school project or extra-low budget screamer. Second, the
plot, while rickety, is serviceable. Third, the acting (with the
exception of two of the main characters) is really not bad. It's not
great, but it's not the amateurish stuff that shows up in so many
direct-to-video features nowadays. Fourth, the gore level (and nudity)
is acceptably high.
The biggest problem with this film is a combination of the script and the direction. You just never feel like any of the characters could be real people. This is especially true of the college students. (As an aside, I might mention that I'm a cranky old guy who thinks that young whippersnappers have things too good and are being coddled to the point of absurdity. But it seems like whoever makes movies like this one thinks that all college students are complete and total sociopaths. In just about every movie I've seen recently that deals with college students, they are all just complete and total jerks. I'm beginning to feel sorry for them.) Anyway, it's hard to identify with the students/victims and that makes it difficult to get emotionally involved with their fear. Everybody in the film is just plastic.
Overall, though, watching this film is not a COMPLETELY terrible way to spend your time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
...in order to dissuade prospective viewers from wasting their time
watching it. A buddy of mine found it at the library and let me borrow
it if I promised to return it on time. I was tempted to turn it in late
just to teach him a lesson, and you may rightfully guess that my
opinion of his taste in movies dropped a notch or two. I suspect he was
simply bedazzled by the occasional baring of boobies, infrequent as
that flashing was. That, and like me he's got a thing for Juliet
"Hack!" is basically a poor man's version of "Scream," and nowhere near as entertaining. I'll admit its heart was in the right place (top shelf, second drawer), but the execution left much to be desired. Much. And I do mean much.
Tyro writer/director Matt Flynn and his crew give it a go, but we all know about good intentions and damned infrastructure. Flynn's script just isn't polished enough to survive the film's low budget. The incessant genre references get old fast (been there, done that), much of the dialog sounds bogus (though there are a few gems amongst the dross), and dramatic structure is almost non-existent. Suspense and tension ARE non-existent. The sound at times is poor. Much of "Hack!" seemed badly lit, and I don't mean purposefully. DP Roger "Loaded" Chingirian does what he can (and a number of shots are quite nice), but the storytelling just isn't visual enough to matter.
The acting is hardly award-winning, but when you're hamstrung with a clunker, whaddaya do? Standouts include the above-mentioned Juliet "Ed Wood" Landau as a wannabe filmmaker with a perverse kink or two, Sean "The Bold and the Beautiful" Kanan as her even more twisted hubby, Danica "Inspector Mom" McKellar assaying the "gotcha" girl (which any astute viewer will see coming from miles away), and Jay Kenneth "Days of Our Lives" Johnson manfully taking on the romantic lead. Burt "Rocky" Young and Tony "Me, too!" Burton make token appearances, along with William "Raising Arizona" Forsythe, proving once again that even respected professionals can take a paycheck and run.
I've already devoted far too many words to a movie that is best critiqued as "eh, there are plenty of better choices for your entertainment dollar." I tried it because Forsythe was in it, and more so, the delectable Ms. Landau. Sadly, even that didn't really make it a worthwhile time-killer. I suppose your mileage may vary, but I'd just as soon go back and watch "Scream" again. Or "Ed Wood". Now, there was a guy who knew how to make bad movies....
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