Blu-ray
One to Avoid
2 stars
Amazon
$12.99
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Overall Grade
2 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
0.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
Supplements
1.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
One to Avoid

Playback

Street Date:
May 8th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
May 30th, 2012
Movie Release Year:
2012
Studio:
Magnolia
Length:
95 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

You've seen one teenage demonic possession movie you've seen them all. Although 'Playback' doesn't think you've seen any of them so it regales you with a horrific tale that it thinks is new and fresh, but really its old and stale. Don't worry, I haven't gotten to the good part yet. Christian Slater is a pedophile in this movie. Now you're interested right?

'Playback' starts out like most horror movies have to start out. A terrible murder in the past is shown in gruesome detail. A blood-stained man runs around the house, kills his family, and then goes after his wife, all the while holding a camera. Since all horror movies need some sort of gimmick, the gimmick here is that the evil possession power passes through video because that's exactly how the maker of the very first film planned it to happen.

Somehow the writers work in what is supposed to be the very first motion picture ever made called 'Roundhay Garden.' It's a short two second clip that was shot by Louis Le Prince in 1888. They purport that the maker of the film, Mr. Le Prince, was actually none other than the Prince of Darkness himself. I wonder what Louis would think today if he watched a movie that said he was the devil and his purpose for making the first film was to pass down whatever evil spirit he could through time and his blood line. Honestly, this is the plot of the film. I wish I was making it up.

So now you're asking yourself, "Hey where's Christian Slater?" Since he's such a bankable star nowadays, as we can tell by him starring in movies like 'Playback,' I can understand why you're so anxious to know what he does in this movie. You'll have to wait a little longer though. I'm sorry.

The movie begins with a group of teenagers who are making their own horror movie. To actually name them would to suggest they were actually "characters," which I'm not really willing to admit. They're more like flesh statues that talk. They deliver all the corny horror movie dialogue you've come to expect from corny horror movies. The movie they're making is of the tragic events that took place at the beginning of the movie. Of course they need to investigate it further, so they do, and that unleashes the demonic spirit which that damn Louis Le Prince let loose on the world when he made his infernal mark on cinematic history.

Real blood soon starts to flow as the kills come fast and furious. The spirit takes over the body of the town loser, who likes hiding cameras in the girl's locker room. That's where Christian Slater comes in. The first time you see him in the movie he's sulking in his cop car – yes, he's a cop – and he's buying girl's locker room footage from said loser. Then we're treated to a few scenes where Slater sits in his house fawning over the footage of naked underage girls traipsing around the locker room. What does this have to do with the story? Not much. It was simply a way to get some of the girls in the movie to take off their tops, which again, is a horror movie trope that cannot be forgotten!

So here we are. A demonic force is on the loose because Louis Le Prince was actually Satan himself. Christian Slater is a pedophile. And I still have no idea what I watched. I sort of sat through 'Playback' with an oddly numb feeling, wishing I could play it at 1.5 speed on my PS3 just so I could get it over with that much sooner.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This is a Magnet release with a Region A coding. It comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase pressed on a 25GB Blu-ray Disc.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The video presentation, while clean, has that cheap video look. Like it was filmed with the cheapest high-def camera they could find. According to IMDb it was film with a Red One MX, but it has a very shot-on-video look that's extremely off-putting.

Besides the un-cinematic look of the film, everything else seemed to have come out clear. Fine detail isn't all that amazing, but close-ups do reveal textual and facial details that are somewhat surprising for a low budget film like this. The movie does feature some very flat blacks though. They are crushing at times. There are some gory kills that are pretty obscured from view because of the crushing blackness produced by the badly delineated shadows.

As for artifacts there is noticeable banding that pops up occasionally. There is also some source noise that is much more evident in the darker areas of the image. For a low budget film it looks decent, but it's nothing to get excited about.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Just as underwhelming is the movie's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that does little more than put the surround sound system through the standard paces.

Like many inept horror movies the soundtrack blares when it should engage. Filmmakers that blare music right before the scare are trying to fool you into jumping. That's what this movie does. Whenever something "scary" is about to happen the screech of the soundtrack ramps up and then boom, you're scared! The rear channels see little activity, unless the cheap scare tactics are being used. Dialogue is pretty clear throughout. Sound effects sound tinny, but that's most likely because of the low budget quality of the movie.

The musical soundtrack is annoying in its own right as the emo-rock blares through all the speakers and might give people a headache, I know it did with me. There isn't much to love here as the audio experience is just as forgettable as the video.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Behind the Scenes (HD, 7 min.) – Standard on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes filming footage. Promo fluff really.

  • Photo Gallery (HD) – If you really wanted to look through 70-plus still photos of the filming of 'Playback' I guess this is the feature for you.

  • HDNet: A Look at 'Playback' (HD, 5 min.) – An HDNet commercial for 'Playback' for video on demand.

  • Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – The trailer is also provided.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no Blu-ray exclusives provided.

Final Thoughts

It isn't even good enough to be awful, it's just there, taking up space. That's how I feel about 'Playback.' What a boring, uninteresting way to spend 98 minutes of your life. How do clichéd horror movies like this keep getting made? Why did Christian Slater have to be a diddler of young girls? Why did they have to sully the name of poor Louis Le Prince? What do they have against the man? Seriously, what did he do to anybody? What did anybody do to deserve this movie? Why am I still talking about it?

Technical Specs

  • 25GB Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH and Spanish

Supplements

  • Behind the Scenes Featurette
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailer

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