Explosions of color, trippy character animation and melodramatic vocals collide in a story about love and music in the distant future. Strange Frame, by directors GB Hajim and Shelly Dotty, may make some feel like they are on the bad-side of an acid trip, with its hallucinogenic, cut-out animation style. However, the film possesses such an intense exuberance in both its aesthetics and storytelling that it gradually becomes captivating, once one is able to acclimate themselves to the film’s bizarre design.
Frame is set in the 28th century where Earth has been abandoned due to the ravaging effects of humanity’s presence (the timeline seems somewhat optimistic given our ecological bad-behavior). Despite the apparent technological advances, such as the ability for interstellar colonization, Strange Frame paints humanity as being still defined by the strong’s subordination of the weak. For many the only way to migrate off of the Earth’s destroyed surface is by trading in their autonomy for an indefinite period of indentured servitude. One of these servants, or slaves, is Naia, who has been genetically enhanced like so many others in her situation to become a more efficient worker for the rich and powerful.
The film’s storyline begins once Naia meets protagonist and narrator Parker (voiced by Claudia Black) in the middle of a riot, where the underclass of the new society (which is made up of cat-people, robots, individuals with extra-appendages, and beings with impossible skin pigments) is rebelling against their overlords. Instantly attracted to each other the woman soon become hot and heavy, and eventually fall in love. They form a band but soon are threatened by the demonic influence of Mig, who is voiced by the one and only Tim Curry.
Strange Frame can sometimes feel somewhat familiar, with its themes of star-crossed lovers and future-shock dystopia. Yet it is probably one of the most visually riveting movies released in recent years. The energy and beauty of the animation, and the strength of its vocal performers (particularly Curry, who is the definitive voice actor for flamboyant evil) keep this story of love up among the stars.