Straight to video horror thriller "Playback" is part supernatural thriller/part murder-mystery/part gratuitous gore fest - all "played back" to mixed results. Certainly not a travesty, Michael A. Nickles does manage to make a film whose mythology mystery is nicely thought out, but whose rules get broken from time to time offering a bit of confusion. Even more befuddling is the fact that Christian Slater appears in a very minor role as a perverted small town cop that pays for videos of teenage girls undressing. It’s icky and there’s so little meat to his role, he clearly must have been doing someone a favor.
Regardless, "Playback" is about a group of teenagers working on a class project about an infamous murder case that took place fifteen years earlier. With the help of a creepy television station assistant Quinn (Toby Hemingway), student Julian (Johnny Pacar) gets further and further into the project by doing his own movie version of the crimes and asking Quinn to get some old footage of the news reports from when the crimes occurred. When Quinn finds raw footage from the night of the murders, a bit of shocking hocus-pocus occurs and Quinn is suddenly possessed by the spirit of a killer, or kind of is. This is where the rules get fuzzy. Quinn then goes about possessing Julian’s friends, making them do bad things, and then they die.
There is nothing overly original here, but it gets wrapped up in a fairly attractive package that makes it diverting. The supernatural element is such random stretch that it feels part of another movie. There is a lot of crazy backstory as well, that is at once interesting, but muddies up the works. The film itself is shot well and there are some unnerving moments. I’ll admit, it sustains interest and the leads are fairly believable - it just needed an extra jolt of something to keep it scary rather than gross.
Special Features include two Making-of featurettes that show the making of some of the gorier moments and give a recap of the contents of the movie.