Grimmfest 2018: Framed
5th October 2018 (UK Premiere)
A group of young people is attacked by three individuals. Cruel games and tortures will be broadcast in live streaming.
Daniel Horvath, Àlex Maruny, Carlus Fàbrega
Not all films are made to be enjoyed. Some can be gruelling to watch and exhausting to endure, but offer something important or interesting to say instead. Something akin to Schindlers List or the recent mother! may fall into these respective categories. The opposite can also apply of course, where a film can be unashamedly worthless in artistic merit, but an absolute riot to watch. But every so often a film comes along so totally unenjoyable, so utterly empty, that it fails to raise any feeling but contempt.
Welcome to Framed.
This is usually the part of the review where I explain a bit of the plot. But I honestly don’t feel obliged to after such a terrible experience. So instead I’ll just copy and paste the synopsis of this Spanish gore-fest to demonstrate how much fun this film sounds. “A group of young people is attacked by three individuals. Cruel games and tortures will be broadcast in live streaming” Wonderful eh? If you imagine an episode of tech-gone-wrong TV show Black Mirror, then imagine all the smart satire and social commentary removed, add half a dozen interchangeable protagonists and an aggressively obnoxious tone, then you have something resembling Framed.
Despite these harsh words, and trust me there is plenty more to come, there is evidence of the film at least trying. Director Marc Martinez has a vision that isn’t compromised by any studio interference. It’s obvious this is something he believes in, which should be somewhat commended – albeit begrudgingly. It’s all too easy to criticise and tear apart something you find painstakingly unappealing, but the people involved clearly care, especially with the blood-soaked special effects and neon cinematography. Framed even opens promisingly with a striking credits sequence accompanied with a suitable electronic theme. But I’m afraid that’s all I can muster in terms of positives.
Otherwise Framed was a laborious affair filled with distasteful and excessive violence, lacking the charm other, more-entertaining films would get away with. It warns us regarding the dangers of our social media and celebrity dominated culture with the subtlety of a chainsaw. There are flashes of this message that’s usually rife with intriguing arguments, but one that screenwriter Jaume Cuspinera reduces to the writings of a primary school pupil. It’s insufferable mayhem at points; a knife is embedded into a skull without the victim dying. A girl is given an unknown drug, sending her on a trip where she begins to eat her own arm. People are forced to have sex in one scene. All in the name of rising viewers for the broadcasting app named Framed. The whole thing is laughably unconvincing and silly.
The stand-out performance belongs to the insane leader of the trio of torturers played by Alex Maruny, who turns up the crazy dial to 11. There’s nothing interesting behind the performance however: it’s simply crazy for crazy sake. Everyone else is genuinely interchangeable, reading their lines as effectively as drama students in their introductory class, but adding nothing personal to their characters.
Framed has elements of The Purge series and often wanders into Hostel territory, but still feels like a sub-par, straight to DVD version of those already wobbly films. Hostel’s depravity turned your stomach, but here it only turns your eyes. The Purge successfully felt like a game of cat-and-mouse, but Framed can’t even establish the basic blueprint of a house. There’s only so much you can take before inevitably switching your brain off – something I highly recommend if you value the cells contained within.
Enjoyable credits sequence
Lacking interest, charm or simple entertainment
On the nose themes