Hack is one of those self-referential "insider" horror films like
Scream. You know the drill by now. The seven main characters in the film,
kids stranded and vulnerable, talk about making films, especially horror
films. They discuss stereotypical casting, cliches, outrageous plot
twists, and so forth in ways that are supposed to make us arch an eyebrow
at the obvious irony involved in their blissful ignorance that all the
situations they discuss parallel their own.
As it turns out, there's kinda sorta a good explanation for why they
seem to be in a horror film, other than the fact that they are in the one
we are watching. You see, the seven biology students have been stranded on
their island as part of a master plot to create a "reality horror" movie,
in which they will die in the manner of classic horror movie deaths while
the producers film all the action, unbeknownst to the victims. From the
audience point of view, the plot is driven by curiosity about who exactly
is pulling all the strings. The last twenty minutes consist of a series of
convoluted twists and turns in which the presumed killers either get
killed or are revealed to be good guys. It turns out that there
are more and more levels to the film-within-a-film. In other words,
perhaps it is a film within a film within a film and somebody else is
making a movie about other people making a snuff movie. Or maybe somebody
else is making a movie about that. And so on.
People rise from the dead again and again. The (presumed) villains are
a couple who mimic Morticia and Gomez Addams. The dialogue and situations
consist almost entirely of homages to memorable films, from the horror
genre and elsewhere. It's all just a bunch of silliness, and it is not
meant to be taken seriously.
While it is not a great movie, it is far better than the IMDb score of
2.6. I have no idea what's up with that. The proper score is in the 5s
somewhere, comparable to the Scream sequels, which score 5.3 and 5.8. In
fact, I liked it better than either of those films, but then again maybe I
liked it because it was made for movie buffs as a game of "spot the
reference." But I don't think that's the only reason I liked it. The film
also looks gorgeous, and contains the minimum daily requirements of the
lurid guilty pleasures that the genre is heir to: a beautiful naked woman
(three nude scenes for Gabrielle Richens), demented evildoers, comic
relief, and bizarre deaths. In an touch of absurdity, it also features
William Forsythe as Groundskeeper Willie, with outrageous Scots accent, facial
hair and all. I kid you not. No, it doesn't make any sense in context.
He's just there because he's there.
The only time the movie falls off is when it sails in the narrow
channel between B-movie land and spoof land. There are times when the
spoofery is so subdued that it seems like one is simply watching a bad
movie. (It's a straight-faced parody, not a broad "nudge-nudge" farce like
Scary Movie. A lot of IMDb commenters seem to be unaware that the film was
fuckin' with them.) It has its dead spots, but all in all, I think it's a
reasonably entertaining entry in the Dr. Phibes line, which consists of
the horror movies which know that they are campy and ridiculous and use
that knowledge as part of the entertainment.