DIRECTOR: Dominic Bridges
An amoral estate agent is preyed upon by one of his evicted tenants.
Looking at the poster art for Freehold, I went into this one expecting a supernatural ghost story. The poster for the film features a picture of an apartment complex that has what appears to be dead hands grasping it. So I could be forgiven for believing that this was going to be one of the supernatural kind. Those hands don't look very human to me. Had I discovered the movie under its other title, Two Pigeons? I may have gone in expecting something utterly different from what I eventually got with this film.
What I actually got from this movie was a dark, and disturbing tale of revenge. The film is about an amoral estate agent who evicts a man and in the process ruins that man's life. So the man then seeks to turn the tables on the estate agent by secretly moving into his apartment unseen and concocting a malicious campaign of revenge against him. Instead of providing the audience with scares and violence. This story goes for more of a gross-out, gag-filled sort of display. Nothing in Freehold is very pleasant to watch.
Like The Greasy Strangler or Kuso that came before it. I was disgusted and repulsed while I was watching Freehold. But the only difference here is that I actually enjoyed Freehold. The other two were gross and not at all entertaining to me. I didn't connect with either of the movies or any of the characters that inhabited those worlds. There was something about the two characters in Freehold that made me feel sorry for both of them in the end. Both had their reasons for what they had done. Both were equally as revolting in their actions. Still, I liked their character arcs.
Nothing in Freehold feels gruesome or violent. If you go into this one expecting some gory horror film, you'll be sorely disappointed with the outcome. The movie isn't very creepy either. The entire tone and vibe of the film feel almost like some twisted dark comedy. The unseen man spends the duration of the running time concocting these horrible ways to get revenge on the estate agent. Some far nastier than others. At times, I was almost dry heaving during some of his scenes of revenge. It really was gross and over the top at times.
Our unseen man pours bleach into his shampoo. He spits phlegm into his mouthwash. He uses his toothbrush to clean out his rectum. The list goes on and on. The build-up to their confrontation is incredibly sick and twisted. I like that this unseen presence is able to navigate this small apartment without his rival knowing he's even there. It's quite the scary notion. To imagine that someone is living in your apartment and you are none the wiser? He's able to break you down over this period of time, ruin your friendships, and relationships or even make you sick. I loved how they captured this in the film.
The acting in the Freehold is great. Javier Botet is our unseen man. He stands at 6'6". He's got this frail, and thin body that allows him to move in a way that seems almost inhuman. I love how he's able to get around the apartment. Hide on top of cupboards and under beds, and in the walls. I felt that he was equally gross as he was menacing once we get into the third act of the film. It makes sense that this is the man that has played pretty much every creature or monster in a movie that Doug Jones hasn't. The both of them are just such talented performers.
Our other main stars are played by Mim Shaikh and Mandeep Dhillon. Both Mim and Mandeep get to do the most here in terms of performance. They play a couple who is slowly torn apart. Our unseen man destroys their relationship by viewing gay porn on her laptop. Blowing his nose into her panties. He takes a dump and doesn't flush the toilet. As their issues continue to grow, they can no longer tolerate each other, and I liked watching their relationship fall apart. It's a testament to both of them as actors when you feel sorry for them even if one is a pretty dodgy guy from the outset.
Visually, I think Freehold looked incredibly well made. For a story that is set entirely in one location. It takes a lot to make that interesting. We spend the vast majority of the movie inside this apartment. I think what makes this movie look so impressive is the way the camera moves around this apartment. I enjoyed that the director tried to get into every nook and cranny of this place. I also loved the use of the fluid camera shots where they would go over the walls and into the ceiling. They even use a lot of these overhead shots as the cast maneuvers the apartment. I think this looked a lot bigger than what the budget probably was for the film.
DEATH TOLL: 0
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A man slices his hand open and pours blood over a naked man.
Freehold is a movie that plays with the tropes of the home invasion genre. The film is never gory or violent, nor is it ever really suspenseful. What the movie does very well is that it slowly builds towards a dark third act. The entire build-up unfolds like some gross and twisted dark comedy. With some solid leading performances and great use of the one-location set. This is a movie that deserves to be seen at least once. Will it be a pleasant experience? No. This is quite nasty and will likely turn a lot of audience members off. Still, I believe this is worth a watch.