Freeze Frame
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr John Simpson
with Lee Evans, Sean McGinley, Colin Salmon, Rachael Stirling, Ian McNeice, Rachel O'Riordan, Andrew Wilson, Andrea Grimason, Martin McSharry, Gabriella Henriette, Emily Anthony
release UK 18.Jun.04, 10.Dec.04
04/UK 1h38

Facing the evidence against him: Evans freaks out again

evans mcginley salmon
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freeze frame This claustrophobic thriller by first-time filmmaker Simpson has visual style by the bucketful, plus lashings of emotional angst, even if it's not terribly suspenseful. The story centres on Sean (Evans), a man who escaped a multiple-murder charge on a technicality and now lives in a state of relentless paranoia, videotaping himself 24 hours a day to provide an alibi in case the cops set him up again. A decade later the detective (McGinley) and his assistant (Salmon) are still after him, as are a tabloid TV reporter (Stirling) and a profiler (McNiece) who made his name on Sean's case. With everyone trying to get him, Sean has a right to be paranoid! Especially when they're all keeping warped little secrets ... which of course are about to be revealed.

Simpson films this in a very dark and murky style--virtually monochrome with only glimpses of colour and lots of engulfing shadows. He also fills the film with flickering video effects and the jarring angles of both surveillance cameras and Sean's body-cam. This strong style effectively covers over the low budget, giving the film a strongly original visual look. Although it's also somewhat annoying that no one ever turns on a proper light bulb, and the images won't just sit still long enough for us to really see anything. The cast is strong and intriguing; we know immediately that there's more to these people than they're letting on, and it's great fun watching the masks drop. Evans is effective in a rare dramatic role that seems to have been created deep in his gut and emerges through his brutally shaved head. Yet all of the characters are just a bit too overwrought; the film builds to a series of histrionic scenes drenched in tears and blood (among other things). But there's a strange lack of any humour, black or otherwise, that might have actually heightened the suspense. Because as it is, it's so arch and twisty that it starts to feel corny in the end. Yes, it's a fascinating story with clever jabs at CCTV, reality television and criminal profilers, but it's never as scary or emotional as Simpson wants it to be.

cert 18 themes, language, violence 5.Feb.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... freeze frame J.P. Melchior, Netherlands: 1.5/5 "Here's an original script, a promising director and a film that just doesn't work. This is due to the claustrophobic tunnelvision way of shooting and editing of the film. Poor performances and very unrealistic plot finish it off." (20.Nov.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall