Monday, November 28, 2022

Masquerading Madness in Venice: Veneciafrencia (2021)

Veneciafrencia (Spain, 2021)
Rating: **
Starring: Ingrid García Jonsson, Silvia Alonso and Goize Blanco

In this giallo-inspired horror thriller, a group of five Spanish tourists visit Venice for what's supposed to be an extravagant bachelorette party, only to end up caught and tangled in a web of socio-political tensions and random murders committed by a madman in a court jester's outfit when one of them suddenly disappears the day after they all attended a secret rave. With a premise like that, Veneciafrencia (2021) could have had a rich world and intriguing plot points to center a bodycount flick around with its talks of mass tourism ruining a beloved country and the lengths some people would go to dispose what they deem as a "plague" that's ruining their beautiful city. Unfortunately, the movie can't seem to decide whether it wants to be playful with the idea or be straight with it, resulting to an erratic direction that further loses its worth as it focuses on a gang of charmless characters in a set-up not too far off from Eli Roth's Hostel franchise.

The pacing and tone are just all over, in turn, as the movie pretends to be something deep and witty as a by-the-book conspiracy thriller for some moments, only to be gutted down by its own cluster of hammy horror and crazy killings as a slasher flick in the next. It's a clumsy hodge-podge juggle that's unnecessarily complicated in its execution seeing there's really no sense of mystery regarding why the villains are doing all of this as it's basically plastered all over the scenes involving our casts interacting with many of the locals. This, unsurprisingly, results to the story's flow just bogging down with pointless police procedurals and investigations, making its hundred minute-long barrage of bland characters and tired clichés eventually lose its steam in its last act with an unrewarding conclusion to boot.

On a more positive note, Veneciafrencia (2021) does succeed in making its slasher scenes memorable in a goofy yet gruesome way, with a couple of murders happening during public daylight as our killer chortles at gathering crowds of tourists that everything horrible he's doing is just an act and these idiots simply eating up this claim without any sense of hesitation. It's absurdly silly and a tad too convenient, with all forms of logic and realism thrown out, but keeps rather a quirky energy in its viciousness, a welcome take for a bloody good time even if most of the kills were from random bystanders. Aside from that, the film also benefits from looking quite stunning with its location shots and camera work, showcasing the beauty of Venice in and out of the horror scenes and the stellar production work done behind the film.

With more miss than hits, Veneciafrencia (2021) is a good enough horror film that could've been better if it found a way to balance out its commentary themes and splashy slasher hook in a way that would benefit one another. Give it a try if you like, though expect a hobbled path. 

1 male bludgeoned to death with a camera
1 female dragged away, killed offscreen
1 male repeatedly ran through with a sword
1 male repeatedly ran through with a sword, decapitated
1 female had her throat cut with a sword
1 male seen crushed on a dock by a cruise ship (video)
1 female had her hands and back hacked with hooks
1 male shot
1 male and 1 female found dead from cut wrists
Total: 10

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