THE short film which preludes Dominic Bridges’ Freehold in its Grimmfest slot, Drew Macdonald’s Creeper, is a much more terrifying exploration of a similar concept; the presence of an unknown entity in the home.
Creeper is, as the name implied, a creepy, dark exploration of urban crises in the social media generation; it’s lead character spend the majority of the piece asleep, whilst her Uber-driver house intruder stalks around her home. All this is filmed beautifully by Drew Macdonald; the low lights and the intruders pale face contrasting fantastically.
Freehold, meanwhile, despite some freaky imagery and gross out moments, is a hilarious, surreal black comedy. It’s place at Grimmfest indeed, seems somewhat unusual. It lacks almost any horror tropes and instead relies on gross-out humour with cross cutting used to a particularly stunning effect to demonstrate the intertwined yet entirely separate lives of city playboy banker Hussein and house guest Orlan, a refugee who is living day-to-day.
The films allegory is driven home in the third act, possibly making it too on the nose, though a stunning final shot is very memorable, which makes the inevitable confrontation between the unknown housemates worth it. After the film wraps proper, a spoken word poem, which touches on race, work pressure and more, performed by lead actor Mim Shaikh provides a few more laughs, as well as some glaringly serious commentary.
Both Shaikh, as Hussein, and Mandeep Dhillon as his girlfriend Mel, deliver some stunning domestic performances and have perfect chemistry – they’re easily to belive as a real power couple. Yet when Orlan subtly begins to mess with the couples lives whilst they sleep, their performances become even stronger still – their infallible self-belief and righteous anger at one another totally incendiary on screen.
The cross of houseing-crisis-commentary, horror and black comedy has no right to work as well as it does here, so it makes praise for a film that pulls it off so flawlessly even more noteworthy.