From directors Matthew Festle and Matt Leal comes an independent horror thriller that capitalizes on its limited budget with an effective use of horror elements. Hacks presentation and continuity will thrill viewers due to its dark music, inviting cinematography, and impressive performances. The two leads play podcasters, Michael (Matthew Festle) and Darren (Jackson Turner), who are fanatics of crime podcasts, but one has a nightmare awaiting. It is a twisted, mind-bending, and daring film which is a seventy-minute thrill-ride of surprises and tension. The script was written by brothers Matthew and John Festle, both of whom possess creative minds which tend to shock their audiences.
The film gears on two podcasters who are focused on growing their podcast by featuring crime stories. Due to some flaws, they believe they have a chance to gain popularity once they interview a special guest named Dr. Brennan (Thom Michael Mulligan). However, when Michael begins to become intrusive while trying to schedule an interview with Dr. Brennan, he comes across haunting discoveries and visions. The discoveries cause viewers to wonder if the horror is real or a nightmare. Michael’s obsession and egotistical attitude causes tension, and it begins to rise as the disagreements with Darren escalate. As Michael grows angry, his mind begins to deteriorate as he experiences more nightmares out of the blue.
What spoke to me the most about Hacked was the acting between the two podcasters. Michael and Darren have personality differences which play an important role in Hacked. Darren is the laid-back, but knowledgeable podcaster who wants to take appropriate steps to build their podcast and its positive reputation. Michael is the impatient and foul-mouthed podcaster. As positives things happen for Darren, Michael encounters more negatives. In addition to unexplained nightmares, he burns more bridges with Darren as well as other, and others due to his unprofessional attitude. The differences between these two characters are where the essence of brilliant horror is in Hacked. I found myself asking what is the next bridge for Michael to burn and what shocking vision or nightmare will then ensue? Hacked will leave viewers questioning due to a variety of unexplained fragments.
When I reflect upon Hacked, I believe it is a film by two directors who know the formula that grabs fans’ attention. Festle and Leal add to their film’s shock value by combining continuity and karma. The use of karma in this film is portrayed by showing how a person’s actions in the present can decide their fate in the future. The decline of Michael’s reputation is where the karma lies. Hacked is a film that is psychologically engrossing, and an example of the promising projects Festle and Leal have in the works. Three and a half stars.