Written by: Jason Chester, Vincent Kulish, Frank S. Petrilli
Directed by: Frank S. Petrilli
Starring: Kim Kleemichen, Becky Byers, Vincent Kulish, J. Wright Chester, Theresa Davis, Tom Petrone, Bob Waters
Runtime: 74 minutes
Synopsis: Seniors play hooky from high school and get trapped in an abandoned Psychiatric Facility famous for hauntings, witchcraft and demonic possession. [IMDb]
Let me start out by saying that I HATE found footage movies. It's not often where they are pulled off successfully and I honestly feel like they're a cop out and lazy. I also feel like it's something that will sadly never slow down, or better yet, go away and the genre will become more and more saturated with it. Out of the hundreds of found footage films, can you think of 10 that are good? Neither can I.
Play Hooky is not an amazing movie. It's horror, it's found footage, it's got the same played out venue and same idea in which a couple of dudes and a couple of attractive females go to drink and smoke weed at an abandoned whatever. At least in Play Hooky, they wrote in several other attempts at hanging out elsewhere before settling on the beloved abandoned psychiatric hospital. That makes why they ended up there believable. There wasn't much in the way of blood and guts, and the killer wasn't really intimidating. In other words, the premise is a dead horse... and it's about to be beaten. Again.
Wait a minute. I know what I just said is a turn off and makes it sound bad. Stay with me though.
I liked Play Hooky. I LOVED how this was filmed with a flip HD camera. Bought from Best Buy for under $200 dollars, this is a big part of why the film works. It creates realism in the sense that its something that we could actually own, work with and be familiar with. It's got the home movie feel to it that makes it a legitimate entry into found footage. They attached the camera to a characters hat, so it allows you not only to watch, but to take part in the action. It's endearing and charming and roped me in. By capturing this sense of realism, this is EXACTLY what I want out of a found footage film.
I also enjoyed the characters. Kim Kleemichen, Becky Byers, Vincent Kulish and J. Wright Chester had chemistry between them. They presented themselves as people we hung out with at school, without overselling it. There's something special with how they gel and get on with each other. After the credits, there's something to be said about a scene with Bob Waters. Hopefully people stick around and check it out. I believe that this movie would have failed entirely had it not been for the strength of the cast.
While the film is sure to be overlooked by many due to the stigma of being found footage, I think it's cool that Wild Eye Releasing looks past that and sees the effort behind it. Far from perfect, Play Hooky felt more like a true found footage film than anything I've seen in a long time, and that's enough reason to give it a go.