Hack! (2007)

Hack (2007)

Reality Kills.

Seven college students desperate to raise their grades are invited to spend a weekend on the island of reclusive Vincent King in order to study the wildlife. But it isn’t long before the students realise that they are being filmed as part of a snuff film and killed off in grisly ways.

 

Hack! has me split right down the middle. On one hand it’s just an eighty-nine minute long name-check of horror films and characters with no regard for originality, in fact even embracing its shameless ripping of some superior films. There’s only so much of this that I can take. On the other hand, it rips off so much that it ends up becoming mildly entertaining to see which film is going to be next for the copycat treatment. Hack! will not appeal to everyone – heck I don’t even know myself. The post-modern horror thing of characters quoting fiction-in-fiction has been done to death since Scream set the benchmark and this one isn’t going to change that. However a decent cast and lots of gore save the rather messy script from cutting itself too loose.

Hack! has a wafer-thin plot with the whole college students scenario to get the characters onto the island. Do we really need to have college students as the characters? Why not just a group of friends? Or adults? The reason is obvious – we get to receive our token cut-out characters ranging from the jock who wants to play football, the nerdy bookworm to the hot foreign student and the token straight-laced hero. It insults me to continually see the same characters rolled out film after film. The worst thing is that a lot of films play on the stereotypes to make you think that different things will happen to them but 90% of the time it’s the same end result (the black guy dies early, the slut is usually killed just after having sex with the jock, the bookworm falls in love with the token straight-laced hero, etc, etc). There is a little tweaking around with the end result of each character here with the exception of one

***Spoiler – the hot, slutty chick who gets naked actually survives for a change! End Spoiler***

With clichéd characters and a script that has them doing ‘highly original’ things like drinking, acting like assholes and having pre-marital sex, it is no surprise that almost the entire first half of the film is unwatchable. It just goes through the slasher motions in order to set up the final third. But it’s when the film shifts gears in the final third that Hack! manages to pick up steam. The script doesn’t make any sense at the best of times with so many twists and turns throughout that it’s best not to think about who is who. But at least when the killing begins, there’s plenty of blood flowing around to make it seem worthwhile.

I lost count at the amount of name-checking the film does. It really annoys me to no end to see writers do things like this without any other purpose than to say “look at us, we saw all of the movies we mentioned.” Films like Hellraiser, Saw, Jaws (the boat is named Orca), Frankenstein, The Birds and House of 1,000 Corpses are mentioned. We get characters ranging from Hannibal Lecter to Freddy being discussed. Even actors and directors like Rob Zombie and Boris Karloff get the treatment. What about the characters’ names in here like Vincent King (Vincent Price + Stephen King?), Mary Shelly (a no-brainer every horror fan should recognise), Sheriff Bates (Psycho anyone?) and so on. Dialogue is also lifted from many films including infamous lines like “The Truth? You can’t handle the truth!” and “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Do they serve any purpose? Nope. Most of the time these quotes just sound weird and are completely out of context with what the characters have been doing or saying.

The names in the cast also provide little more than excuses to pad out the front cover with ‘stars’ like Tony Burton (Duke, the trainer from the Rocky films), Burt Young (Paulie from the Rocky films – do I sense a theme?) and William Forsythe (loads of cheap jack crap but more recently any Rob Zombie film). I also recognised Sean Kanan from The Karate Kid Part III and they throw in a little gag about it in here too. Gabrielle Richens provides the token nudity (the film actually gets the hottest chick naked for a change!).

 

If you’ve had your fill of self-referencing slasher films (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) then maybe Hack! isn’t for you. But it’d make a good drinking game to sit through this and have a shot of your drink of choice for every horror film that gets name-checked or referenced at some point – you’ll be long gone before they even get to the island.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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