Playback (2012): America’s Home Videos Gone Wrong

Playback (film)
Playback (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is interesting what draws us to a film. In this particular instance it was the words ‘starring Christian Slater‘ that hooked me. I should have known better. Slater actually has an oversized (or undersized, depending how you look at it) cameo in the film. It’s literally a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss him’ or more accurately blink twice and you’ll miss him.

I don’t mind too much. It is a standard practise among smaller films to get an established ‘star’ to appear in a cameo and then tout said star as the big player in the film. Standard practise that can be forgiven if the film is actually any good. Unfortunately in this case the film is mediocre at best and confusing at the worst.

I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s a tad confusing. The Wikipedia entry for this film has the plot so wrong that it appears to be talking about a different film than the one I watched.

Without going into too much detail (detail that isn’t really there anyway) the plot revolves around a man named Lucien Le Prince who made the first ever film, beating even Edison to the screen. Unfortunately the film is only about 2 – 3 seconds long and it enabled Le Prince to steal the soul of his male baby and replace it with his own soul.

Are you with me so far?

The film opens with a multiple murder occurring in a farmhouse (the infamous Diehl murders) in the rural setting of Michigan. A camera is focused on a baby in a cot and the murderous Diehl is trying to do something through the camera to the baby. Unfortunately for him his adoptive sister gets in the way and then the police arrive and after a stab here and a few gunshots there everyone but the baby dies.

Fast forward to a bunch of High School students making a film based on the infamous murders for a class project. The lad directing and editing the film is Julian Miller (played by actor Johnny Pacar, who appears to have gone to the Roger Moore school of acting – one eyebrow raised at a time to reflect his thought process and reactions to damn near anything)

The rest of the young cast all seem to be of the ‘still paying their dues’ part of their careers. None of the performances were too dire and for the most part nothing the actors did clashed too badly. If you interested the rest of the cast are listed below:

Alessandra Torresani
Ambyr Childers
Johnny Pacar
Christian Slater
Jonathan Keltz
Jennifer Missoni

Also known as Playback: Bloodline the film was written and directed by Michael A. Nickles who is perhaps better known as an actor with credits going back to 1986.

So where does the film go wrong?

It seemed to me that Nickles could not make up his mind what genre he wanted the film to be. Slasher, horror, supernatural, possession or perhaps a mixture of all the above. Either way, the film doesn’t really work as any of the fore mentioned genres. I could be treating the film a bit unfairly as I just did…not…get…it.

The one big name they had in the film (Slater) had so little screen time that he only managed to make his character repulsive and instantly dislikeable. As the paedophile porn cop junkie he really has so little to do it makes you wonder why he agreed to be in the film. One can only assume that a lot of his performance wound up on the cutting room floor.

If you can find nothing else to watch on Halloween, you might give this one a go. But seriously? If you’re a true horror fan, you’d probably be better off watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (film)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, vlogger, blogger, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, YouTube shows, Books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

6 thoughts on “Playback (2012): America’s Home Videos Gone Wrong

  1. I may skip this one, but if anything, thanks for the warning! 😀 And yes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a GOOD scare choice. I feel cold whenever I picture Depp as Wonka, and hear his creepy voice in my head…

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