Wednesday, 2 December 2015



Asking me about found-footage is like asking a Pope about threesomes or asking Jeremy Clarkson about caravans: don't get me started. I have watched enough halfassed lo-fi camcorder bores to last a Time Lord two lifetimes and I am absolutely and utterly fed up with the whole dysenteric lot of them. The Blair Witch Project and maybe a couple of others kickstarted the shakycam faux-verite subgenre and emptied out its paltry bag of tricks within hours rather than years; subsequently we've had countless pale imitations in which bellowing dimwits film themselves wandering aimlessly about while not knowing how to use autofocus or the stop button. Surely, somewhere, someone's figured out a way to make this peculiar obsession about documenting the glum banality of one's regular existence into some kind of proper movie that doesn't stink the room out like a week-old rotting horse? Well, blimey: someone has. Admittedly it was twelve years ago, and it's still a bit of a mess, but they've managed it.

Freeze Frame is partially found-footage, partially a regular movie which transforms its lead character's pathological need to constantly film himself into a plot point in a commercial thriller. Sean (Lee Evans) has kept an archive of surveillance tapes of his every moment in the last ten years after he was charged with murder (but crucially never exonerated), so he can demonstrate his innocence for any subsequent accusation. But when the police question him about another killing he discovers his precious tapes for those vital hours have gone missing. With the profiler from the original case (Ian McNeice) still maintaining that Sean was the killer all along, and is still dangerous, can Sean and a TV crime reporter (Rachael Stirling) unearth the real killer in both crimes? Especially when she has secrets of her own?

Look: I am not for one moment suggesting that Freeze Frame is a neglected classic or a film in need of reappraisal. The last twenty minutes are an avalanche of shock revelations and wildly absurd melodrama. Characters behave ludicrously: is it standard Met practice for a senior detective to attack his chief suspect with a bone saw? How can they continue to question a man for a murder when they believe he was faking an alibi for a completely different murder at the time? Can profilers really keep the actual murder weapons from unsolved cases in their own houses? How has the clearly unemployable Sean managed to afford his colossal basement home and all those cameras and tapes? Still, for all the silliness, there are a couple of satisfying plot twists and, if nothing else, this does do something else with the tired old format and successfully incorporates into its narrative a solid reason for its protagonist to document every moment of his life. Hurrah for that at least.


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