Somewhere in the mid-2010s, as found-footage was stalling a bit, Spanish found-footage thriller Hooked Up quietly debuted at a small film festival. Roughly two years passed before the iPhone-shot thriller made its way to VOD platforms. Unlike another Spanish found-footage movie, [REC] and its sequels, Hooked Up never found much of an audience. Based on a very limited number of reviews, the fact that this one was shot with an iPhone may be the only thing that stand out.
When his girlfriend breaks up with him, Peter sinks into a funk that frustrates his friend and roommate, Tonio. To shake things up, Tonio books a trip to Barcelona for a week of bar-hopping and women. Though he’s initially reluctant, Peter finally gives in to his friend’s pressure and hooks up with a mysterious Spanish woman. When she invites Peter, Tonio, and another woman back to her grandparents’ abandoned home the night takes a horrifying turn into an inescapable nightmare.
Hooked Up an Occasionally Scary, Often Ugly, Typical Example of Found-Footage
Shot entirely on an iPhone, Hooked Up is largely a pretty straightforward found-footage horror movie. The novelty of director Pablo Larcuen filming everything on an iPhone likely won’t register much for most viewers. Expect lots of shaky cam moments that often obscure what’s happening on screen, which isn’t unlike most found-footage. In what feels like an extended take on the V/H/S segment, Amateur Night, Hooked Up unfolds in two distinct acts. It’s the first segment that may prove to get through as it’s 30 minutes or so of tiresome college boy sex antics. In the first few minutes, Larcuen gives us an extended eyeful of a vomit-filled toilet – that image sums up much of this thriller’s early-going.
Like most found-footage movies, Hooked Up also suffers from the usual logical lapses including the typical ‘why would anyone keep filming’ problem.
Once our protagonists agree to follow an attractive Spanish woman to her grandparents’ abandoned house Hooked Up immediately picks up. Though Larcuen isn’t re-inventing the wheel he manages to conjure up some decent scares. For starters, Larcuen quickly sets things up with eerie shots of windows boarded up and sealed with barbed wire. Things quickly escalate with few gaps between scares and a surprisingly healthy amount of gore. Its ‘twist feels telegraphed long before it happens and much of what follows is often more ‘ugly’ than scary. Like most found-footage movies, Hooked Up also suffers from the usual logical lapses including the typical ‘why would anyone keep filming’ problem.
Hooked Up Tries To Swerve Audience Expectations With a Role-Reversal
Like many found-footage movies, Hooked Up suffers from a character problem. Specifically, no one in this movie is particularly likable. For about half of the movie, audiences will find themselves hating the frat boy antics of sidekick Tonio, played by Johan Ehrenreich. Whether he’s bragging about using absinthe to ply unsuspecting young women or offering a pint of his urine mixed with beer to a bar patron, Tonio instantly grates on one’s nerves. Initially, Stephen Ohl’s Peter wins by virtue of being the least annoying. Though his mopey act gets tiresome quickly, Peter at least offers the possibility of Hooked Up having something for whom to root.
For about half of the movie, audiences will find themselves hating the frat boy antics of sidekick Tonio, played by Johan Ehrenreich.
But Larcuen and co-writer Eduard Sola introduce an interesting kink to the story at the thriller’s midpoint. Once danger emerges Toni and Peter switch roles possibly introducing a bit of intentional commentary. Tonio ditches the bravado and shows actual empathy for his ‘date’, even going so far as to risk his own life to try and help her. Conversely, with his life in jeopardy, ‘nice guy’ Peter reveals a toxic ‘alpha male’ side that may say something about all those guys who complain that women don’t like ‘nice guys’. Or this could all just be an unintentional swerve built into the story. Regardless it at least adds something unexpected to a fairly derivative movie.
Hooked Up Not Likely To Win Over New Fans to the Found-Footage Format
No one’s going to accuse Hooked Up of re-inventing the found-footage subgenre. In spite of the novelty of how it was filmed, this one looks and feels like most examples of the subgenre, including all of the typical limitations. If the narrative feels familiar, director Pablo Larcuen injects a handful of decent scares and at least tries to swerve expectations. Not everything here works – and much of what’s on screen looks and feels ugly – but it never overstays its welcome. If found-footage is your thing and you’ve seen most of what’s available, a free look at Hooked Up on Tubi may be worth a late-night watch.