Starring Daniel Horvath, Joe Manjón, Biel Montoro
Written by Jaume Cuspinera and Marc Martínez Jordán
Directed by Marc Martínez Jordán
Reviewed at Popcorn Frights 2018
The evil of everyday technology is a concept that seems to be often explored through film and television, particularly concerning the perils of social media. In the world of more recent films like Unfriended and Tragedy Girls, it’s impossible to ignore how terrifying social media becomes when we begin to perceive it as imperative to our survival to be always connected. It’s no wonder that the terror of social media addiction has been so successful to express within the context of Horror, as the dire need to establish a powerful online presence often makes us act like monsters. Marc Martinez’s Spanish film, Framed, not only contributes another interesting approach to the idea of social media fiends, but will follow viewers every time they sign on going forward.
The film is about Framed, an online application that is quickly becoming the most popular in the world and is based around live streaming for the most possible amount of views. What makes the app unique is also what makes it so terrifying – no censorship despite the type of content. Naturally, things rapidly go out of control as users stream content that is both hyper-pornographic and hyper-violent, often becoming the most popular channels attracting the most viewers. Framed follows a group of friends over a dinner party that is interrupted by 3 maniacal intruders who are dedicated to intensely torturing them on Framed for the sake of views, resulting in one of the bloodiest films in recent memory.
As the film begins, Framed presents some pretty underwhelming performances that feel stagnant. At first, it’s difficult to feel the fear in our characters in a way that would be powerful, but we do get a few charismatic moments with the friends which develops into a genuine concern for the characters. As the intensity of the plot progresses, so do many of the performances and it becomes a relief that the despair of our characters runs parallel to the horrible things that are happening to them. The film could have otherwise fallen flat and been ineffective in serving as a cautionary tale about what one is willing to do for cyber-popularity. Framed is also extremely profuse with its violence and gore, which in other cases feels like a cheap way to achieve a “shock-factor”, but actually works to this films’ benefit. Because of the Invaders’ channel gaining so much popularity despite how unfathomably violent the stream becomes, it implies that the real monstrosity lies within in the society that tunes in to the invaders’ Framed channel. Viewers, in essence, enable and encourage the heinous attacks.
In addition to its intriguing premise and impressive performances, Framed emulates the visually striking, glow-y atmosphere of movies like The Neon Demon and The Void. It breathes a futuristic ambiance that bleeds neon and is perfectly paired with the ominous sounds of synth.Though it sometimes feels like fluorescent overkill, it contrasts with the on-screen gore in a way that makes the violence feel even colder and more relentless.
What makes Framed unique and memorable is that it’s not only about the monsters who attack these unsuspecting friends for internet fame, but about the monsters who facilitate them. It is about the society that allows social media to influence the things that are done to achieve validation from strangers. Framed will loom over those who watch it every time they sign in to their online world, providing self awareness of the things they do for their online following for a long time to come.
Framed will loom over those who watch it every time they sign in to their online world, providing self awareness of the things they do for their online following for a long time to come.