Description (from the IMDb):
Constant humiliation from society and a long drift into solitude slowly turn murder fantasies of Fabrice Lombard into an irrepressible impulse and Fabrice Lombard into a serial killer.
Christophe Cerdan as Fabrice Lombard, Marianna Voronkova as Agnès, Camille Bardery as Erika, Aurélie Le Dain as Amélie, Céline Costa as Clara, Ofélia Clermontois as Ghislaine, Thomas Didry as Jérémy, Adrienne Muniglia as Caroline Demarez, Virginie Ribaut as Nadine Morago, Anne Goustille as Ingrid Gosset
English Subtitles, Previews
Written and Directed Jacques Vendôme
It is not often that I get a request for a review from overseas, so when Jacques Vendôme wrote me from France and asked that I review his independent horror film, I had to check it out! I thought I might even get my wife to watch it with me, as she speaks some French and Paris is her favorite city, but when she saw the movie was on a label called Oh My Gore!, she declined.
FRUSTRÉ is the story of Fabrice, a local creepy loser guy working in the hospital Laundromat and living with his girlfriend – who happens to be a hyper-realistic sex doll – in a tiny flat in the suburbs of Paris. From the outset, we as the audience know that Fabrice has quite got all his faculties about him. First off, there’s the “girlfriend” issue which is creepy enough on its own, but then there is the addition of wallpaper made from various magazine clippings, mostly of nude or semi-nude women that are not always pasted together in ways that the human body actually works. Fabrice obviously has no friends, and he hangs out in the seedy, sexy part of town when he is not at work being avoided by everyone. Not a great combination: loneliness + isolation + unhealthy sex life = not a good situation.
Needless to say, FRUSTRÉ (Frustration) starts to spiral down as the few people actually making an appearance in his lonely little life reject Fabrice, and we quickly go from a story about a weirdo to a story about a psycho. A psycho with the oddest choice in murder weapon ever, a shower head; seriously, a shower head. Like many other psychos before him, he’s got an issue with women, and his hated and frustration boil over into murder (and rape). Finding the limelight from being a serial killer in Paris that the media has taken a liking to, he is emboldened to do more, and becomes even more callous in his selections of who he sees as a potential victim.
The vibe of FRUSTRÉ reminds me of some classics of the genre that came before, like HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, TONY, and most specifically MANIAC. Like H:POASK, FRUSTRÉ is shot in such a way that much of it really has a very documentary-like feel. Like TONY, Fabrice is a loner that has issues with sharing his life with someone that can not return the favor (for Tony it was a corpse, for Fabrice a sex doll). And like MANIAC, a lot of FRUSTRÉ takes place with just Fabrice and his thoughts, which spiral ever downward. What made FRUSTRÉ different than any of these films was the sexual nature of his attack, as well as the very reserved gore element of the film. H:POASK has Henry dismembering Otis in great detail, TONY has his dismemberments and his rotting corpse bedfellow, MANIAC has some extreme detail thanks to Tom Savini (most memorably, the shotgun through the windshield), but FRUSTRÉ just basically has some bludgeoning via showerhead. Is this a bad thing? No, I don’t think so at all. If you are a “gorehound” and are looking for a movie that is splattertastic, FRUSTRÉ may disappoint, but I think the lack of gore makes the film more psychologically impactful. After watching MANIAC I was of course struck with Frank’s unraveling, but as time passed I remembered the shotgun more, with TONY I remember more about the bag over the head than the details of his sickness, but with FRUSTRÉ what has stuck with me days later is Fabrice. Not his kills, not the external violence, but what really stuck with me is his internal torment.
The look of FRUSTRÉ is very guerrilla, very documentary. There are some aspects that this works well with, like the overall gritty vibe of the film, but there are some bits this hurts as well, like the multiple scenes where you really just can’t see what is going on! What really threw me for a loop is the fact that there are so many scenes with harsh, bad lighting, but then these are juxtaposed by other scenes with some really beautiful lighting, reminiscent of the mid-70’s horror coming out of Italy. Some really nicely stylized things going on, which end up making the other badly lit scenes look even worse in comparison! The audio quality of the film was decent overall, though it was not amazing. I can’t comment too much on the dialogue, it seemed to be recorded well, but as I was reading subtitles I was not as focused on it as in many other films I have reviewed. I was also very impressed with a lot of the score Vendôme created, as it also throws back to that mid-70’s to early 80’s time period in a way that says homage, not parody.
As far as the video, it seemed to be HD on a consumer level camcorder, and shot with autofocus on which tends to flatten the images on screen, so there was not as much depth to a lot of the shots as I would have liked. However flat, there was still some great composition to the shots. Vendôme – here as the one-man-band with writing, directing, editing, producing, shooting, and composing credits – has a nice eye, and often makes sure to have the images on screen complement the eye, even if what we are seeing is not pretty. The editing overall was really well done too, with just a few missteps here and there. I especially enjoyed the sequence when we are first introduced to the sex clubs of Paris, and the images towards the end as Fabrice prepares himself for what he has decided to do.
Overall, I was impressed by Vendôme and FRUSTRÉ. For a film that seems to be his first (from what I can find), and a film that was a very DIY, all in his hands production, Vendôme did a great job. The film is carried on the back of Cerdan’s performance as Fabrice, who is equal parts lonely and creepy. The look of the film serves it well, though I wish there were some more time and effort put into the lighting and sound designs. FRUSTRÉ is a very interesting and unsettling entry into the serial killer genre, and eschews the more recent French horror feelings to make the movie as gory as possible, instead focusing on the psychological impact which I felt made it stronger. Very nicely done, Jacques, I look forward to seeing what you do next.
Overall 7.5 / 10
FRUSTRÉ on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3285342/
FRUSTRÉ for sale: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GGYXWS6
(Amazon.co.uk won’t ship this title to the US, I don’t know if Oh My Gore! Will or not because their shop is all in French)
The film can also be viewed on YouTube as “The Weirdo” (with English subtitles) or “Frustré” without subtitles.
FRUSTRÉ site: http://english.ohmygore.com/frustre-card-3285342.html