Playback - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Playback Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ June 2, 2012
Terrible Movie, i didn't even finish it
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2012
This awful mid budget horror feels like the worst ever episode of the "X-Files", a dated plot about a teen who gains evil powers by viewing some found footage. There are two movies within the movie but the quality is so bad overall that it's hard to distinguish any of them. Christian Slater looks relatively healthy again so his mum might like watching this, nobody else will.
Super Reviewer
August 4, 2012
Playback is a B-Horror film that in a sense is nothing more than a new take on the Amityville Horror. Instead of a demon possessing a house, the demon in this film, keeps his spirit alive on videotape, and when someone sees the tape, they become the next possessed killer. The story was entertaining but wasn't really anything new or extraordinary and the same can be said about the cast. The cast, led by The Covenant's Toby Hemingway, wasn't one of the most talented casts I've ever seen, but they may have been the best looking. There are some really good looking people in this film, and believe it or not, it helps to keep your attention. The film is a little dull and predictable at times, but there is always something nice to look at. This movie isn't original and won't shock or surprise you, but it may just entertain you for a couple hours and it will most certainly have your eyes glued to the screen.
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2012
This movie is also known as Playback: Bloodline and I assume that with a name like that is just a start of a franchise... Yes, it was supposed to be a thriller/horror movie starring Toby Hemingway but there was not too much of the good stuff from both genres!

The story of a school assignment where high school students are digging into the infamous history of their town, finding family murders which will, without them realizing, unlock an evil that possesses them and destroys them. Of course, we all know that Satan is the Prince of the Air and what better way to possess his victims but through video playback ... and later he actually uses them for harming others. Of course at the end we will find the deepest secrets of the town exposed - but nobody would care! Half of the audience already left... half of the ones left were already snoring and others were busy with different activities! And I did not blame them.

What a bore with ludicrous killing spree! Stay away!
½ December 14, 2013
Very bad movie. Stupid plot, poor execution, no scares, terrible performances, except maybe Hemingway, though even he was fairly bad.
February 20, 2014
One line summary: Muddled film with bad acting and more questions than answers.


The film's first segment is time coded at 1994. There's a few minutes of a bloody encounter where Harlan Diehl films a baby. The filming seems to form some sort of connection. The cops show up. Harlan attempts to flee with the baby, but the cops prevent that. The baby's mother Susie Diehl plunges a long knife in Harlan's back. He throws her down, pulls out the knife, jumps toward her and plunges the knife into her chest. The cops gift him with some bullets on the way down during the jump.

The film flashes forward to circa 2012. A young pre-indie film director, Julian, is looking at replays of his current shooting with his co-stars.

The next segment shows some of the teens in journalism class, playing soccer, planning parties, and doing it all with a slacker attitude. Julian meets Quinn, a man in his twenties who works at a television station (WPZM, Channel 13), to return recording equipment to Quinn. Julian takes the opportunity to ask whether Quinn's station has any records about Harlan Diehl's bloody death in 1994.

What could possibly go wrong here?

Quinn soon finds the Diehl footage from 1994, and has some interaction with it. That is, some supernatural (well, we'll see) exchange. Quinn delivers some illegal recordings of a girls' locker room to Officer Frank Lyons in exchange for cash. Later the same night he delivers footage about the Diehls to Julian at a teen party. He uses the chance to plant a camera in a girl's bedroom.

When Quinn's boss reads him the riot act about the mess in the archives at the station, Quinn kills him. The distinctive piece about the film is that whatever possessed Quinn does so via watching recorded footage.

What is this spirit after? Is there some way to stop it? Will there be a sequel after the next viewing of the strange tapes?


Cinematography: 6/10 Often dark to the point where much of the screen has no content. Full daylight scenes are OK.

Sound: 6/10 Mostly OK, but sometimes the volcanic bursts of loud noise have to be dealt with if one lives anywhere near other people.

Acting: 3/10 Not so good. Many of the actors look like tired people 25 to 30 years old, not teenagers. Example: Pacar was 31 in 2012. This is not Christian Slater's best work by any means. Daryl Mitchell gives the only performance I liked, and the few moments of clarity about the supernatural underpinnings of the film. The +3 is for Mr Mitchell, alone.

Screenplay: 4/10 Has a beginning, middle and an end. However, there is not much in terms of resolution, and the exposition of plot is weak.
March 23, 2013
Playback (Michael A. Nickels, 2012)

Playback has the dubious distinction of being the lowest-grossing domestically-released American film of 2012 (it made a grand total of $252, playing on one screen for a single week). It's not the worst film I've ever seen-in fact, it's only the third-worst film I've seen today (and you never know, it might get worse after this!)-but that doesn't mean I would suggest you get within ten feet of a streaming copy of it.

We open in 1994, with a young chap named Harlan Diehl (Dogman's Luke Bonczyk) killing his entire family save his sister's baby before being shot by police. Fast-forward fifteen years, and a group of high-school students, working on a project for their journalism class, are investigating the Diehl murders, headed by Julian Miller (Purgatory House's Johnny Pacar) and his girlfriend Riley (The Master's Ambyr Childers). Julian enlists his stoner buddy Quinn (Black Swan's Toby Hemingway) to "acquire" some information that only the local police have access to; Quinn has an in to the police department in the form of Detective Frank Lyons (Christian Slater), an ephebophilic detective who keeps Quinn rolling in dough-or illegally-swiped evidence on the Harlan Diehl case, it would seem-in exchange for hidden-camera nudie-cutie flicks of the local hot high school chicks. The problem is, when Quinn gets his hands on the tapes, he finds that Harlan Diehl's legacy extends beyond the grave...

If you haven't figured out within ten minutes of this movie starting what happened to the baby from the opening sequence, you haven't seen enough horror movies. That sort of predictability, unfortunately, plagues this entire production. Once you know all the principal high school students, you should be able to pause the film, sit down, and sketch out a list of who's going to die when. And you know what? You'd probably be close enough to right to be extremely disappointed in this movie. And you have every right to be; Nickles, a character actor (probably best remembered for portraying Jim Morrison in Wayne's World 2) who abandoned the screen to go behind the camera, does absolutely nothing to meddle with the formula. This is depressing, because given some of the angles this movie adopts (it would probably contain a host of minor spoilers to go into any detail, but I will say that my favorite character in the film, Wylie, portrayed by Galaxy Quest's Darryl "Chill" Mitchell, is a video-store clerk and would-be film historian whom Julian finds himself consulting more and more as they get closer to uncovering the mystery of Harlan Diehl's motivations), Nickels had ample opportunity to bend some corners, kick some sandcastles, what have you. And he took none of them.

It's not necessarily a bad movie, but it is an extremely frustrating one, boring, predictable, and full of potential that will forever go unrealized. If you do end up watching it, well, you have my condolences. *
January 24, 2013
An interesting concept that was more, unfortunately, harder to watch than it was thrilling. Good thing I saw it outside of the theater as the fast forward button became my friend on the remote about halfway through.
January 1, 2013
If you want to see a movie to make you shit your pants in fear, than Playback is that movie! I thought Christian Bale was starting to lose his mojo after that Flowers of War nonsense, but he's at the top of his game here. I loved every second of it. I pray to the mother Gaia that there is a sequel to this.
January 1, 2013
Christian Bale does an incredible job in this movie. It might be his best work yet. Christian Bale shows everyone just how talented he really is. The movie was a masterpiece. I was on the edge of my seat every second. I highly recommend this movie.
January 1, 2013
Immensely better than his recent "Dark Knight" nonsense, this movie truly proves the acting genius of Christian Bale.
December 31, 2012
Phenomenal piece of work, this cinematic masterpiece surely is a work of art that Michelle and I will "playback" again and again.
December 31, 2012
Amazing film with brilliant performance by Christian Bale, I tell you what. I would watch this movie daily if I wasn't so busy pimping propane all day.
December 30, 2012
Simply genius! 10/10
The best movie I have seen all year. Many people seem to dislike it, but I think that is just because they do not understand its message.
December 31, 2012
Unbelievably well done film! Edge of your seat the entire film, non stop action and suspense! A must see
June 19, 2015
This is not what one would call a horror classic, to say the least. It's not even what one would call a mediocre horror film. It's, for all intents and purposes, a largely terrible horror film with a somewhat decent idea that it absolutely wasted. To be fair, even if the idea itself had been executed well, let's say a 6 out of 10 in its effectiveness, I don't think the film would've been very good anyway. It's just that everything around it, from the cast, the cinematography, the writing, everything was really working against this film. Let's not kid ourselves, Christian Slater was in this film simply for a paycheck and for the fact that his 'name value' could probably secure some funding for the film. It's very clear that he's there for those reasons and his character, while important in moving the "narrative" forward, isn't exactly necessary. The gore is pretty terrible as well to be honest. It just looks very cheap and B-movie-esque. Not saying that this movie was meant to be taken all that seriously, but there aren't a lot of hints of irony coming from this film, so that's a shame. The acting is pretty much what you can expect from such a low-budget horror film, not very good. It's not that there aren't some marginally talented people in the cast, it's just that the way their performances were directed/edited did absolutely nobody any favors. Nobody's stock improved from appearing in this film, not that it probably would've even if the film WAS good. That's how respected horror films are in mainstream Hollywood, even though it's probably got the most loyal fans of any genre, who are easy to get money out of, apparently. I did like the idea of this man, Harlan's great-grandfather, trying to possess the spirit of his relatives through the use of his films. That's about the only thing I like, that concept, because the execution is stereotypical slasher. I'm not even sure why I gave it one star. It's not like it's the worst horror film I've ever seen, so that's probably part of it. It's still a terrible horror movie and one that I regret watching. Not recommended, obviously.
March 30, 2015
This movie was HORRIBLE!! I couldn't even watch it all.. It was so boring that I kept losing interest every 3 mins
½ February 11, 2015
steta,dobra ideja ima,ama pri kraj preoga vo predvidliv shablon,i sve se uriva :(
½ January 7, 2015
Not even Christian Slater nor a bevy of beauties in voyeuristic situations can save this one. On the surface, Playback is generally enjoyable. The premise is pretty standard for the most part and the kills are decent. Where this film goes off the tracks is first with a found footage thing being mixed into the "normal" footage and having a sort of bizarre Shocker, meets The Ring, meets Ghost in the Machine, meets Taking Lives thing going on. Had the film concentrated on doing a better job of the killer being able to manipulate electronics or removed it completely, Playback could have played as a decent predictable slasher type flick. As it is, it's a messy messy mix of too many characters, too many ideas, and too many wasted minutes of my life. Almost say the film felt like a really bad episode of the X-Files but lacked Scully and/or Mulder to at least make you want to keep watching.
½ January 4, 2015
I suppose there was some sort of commentary on voyeurism in the original concept, but in the end it seems the final concept is "you're watching this so you've just wasted a bunch of time."
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