15 years ago, a man named Harlan Diehl killed his entire family except for his infant son before police took him down. Today, a high school student named Julian (Johnny Pacar) is doing a high school project on the massacre. What he doesn’t know is that Diehl is the devil, or so the legend would have us believe. The premise of the movie is simple. No, not simple – needlessly and ridiculously complicated. Apparently, the devil invented the first film camera and made a couple of very short flicks. In doing so, he gave himself the ability to steal the souls of those who watch his movies. On top of this, he can transfer his soul into a young blood relative presumably to live forever (because his mortality has become a concern over the past hundred years?). Playback is the next in a long line of films that tries to blend modern technology with the occult. The Ring, Fear.com, Pulse, and White Noise all stand out as other examples of this, and Playback is by far the worst one yet. The problem is that it’s impossible to decipher what a movie like this is trying to say about the modern world. That technology is bad? That movies are made by Satanists? That Christian Slater’s career is over?
Here, Slater plays a police officer who pays a local kid, Quinn (Toby Hemingway), for hidden camera video recordings of the girls’ locker room at the local high school. He’s a despicable, perverted little character to be sure, but the remarkable thing is how small the role is. Christian Slater is billed second on the film, but easily has the smallest part. Obviously this is because he’s the only “star” in the movie and they’re trying to draw in a bigger audience. It worked to some extent, because the only reason I requested this movie for review was that I thought it was starring Christian Slater, an actor I happen to like a lot, but seeing him phone in a handful of scenes here is extremely disappointing.
Special features include a very short behind the scenes featurette, a photo gallery, an HDNET look at Playback, and a collection of trailers for DVDs also coming out from Magnet. These other films, including Goon and God Bless America, look to be much more interesting than this endeavor.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD from Magnet on May 8