Updated: Feb 13, 2020
Directed by: #AlexanderJeremy
Written by: #AlexanderJeremy
Fred is described on its own Twitter page as being “a short film about grief, obsession and our ghosts.” I’m not so sure. I mean, it has all those things in it, sure, but I don’t know if that’s what it’s really about. A lot is going on in Fred: a lot to consider. And I’ll be damned if I can tell you precisely what. But I do know one thing...I really like it!
The confusion starts from the beginning: who is our lead character? Is it Lily (Susie Kimnell), the young woman who’s recently lost her partner James and with whom we begin the film; is it the titular Fred (Samuel Woodhams), a somewhat shady character with a flair for theatrics: or is it both? For my money, it’s both. Woodhams is possibly onscreen for longer and is, arguably, a more memorable character. But it’s with Kimnell’s Lily that we begin the film and really bond with. However you look at it, the juxtaposition of both characters is pitch-perfect.
The performances, too, contrast greatly, and both are utterly mesmerising in their own right. The beautifully understated poignancy of Kimnell’s performance resonates deep within the viewer, and the efficacy of her ability to create such resonance almost entirely physically is quite stunning. Then comes Woodhams, whose friendly shoulder-to-cry-on facade soon gives way to reveal a decidedly more sinister character. Bubbling in intensity and wholly histrionic in nature, Fred can better be compared to Andrew Scott’s brilliant portrayal of Professor James Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock - and Woodhams nails it. Polar opposites indeed!
Fred is a well-put-together movie which suffers slightly from narrative clarity or the lack thereof. The pacing is perfect, as is the atmosphere the film creates. Where it stumbles slightly is in that things aren’t clearly explained or shown to us. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, not by any means, most movies are far too keen to lay out the plot and leave the viewer with nothing to ponder. But when after three viewings you’re still unsure of the finer points, you need to consider that it may have been a little too vague. However, I’d be lying if I said this hadn’t kept me thinking about the film for longer. Another issue I noted during my viewings was that the night-time scenes were just too dark to see what was going on.
Where the movie really won me over, though, was with its sudden evolution into a musical around six-minutes in. I didn’t see it coming, but my god was it the right decision! The 1950s vibe, with both the music and the dance itself, is put to screen superbly, while the muted blue colour palette used throughout most of Lily’s scenes conjures a palpable sense of despair and foreboding - lending the film an inflexion of horror. Indeed, seeing that eerie grin form on Fred’s face as he gradually begins tapping his feet, before breaking into a full-on song-and-dance number – all to the tune of Lee Wiley’s Time On My Hands – is an incredibly haunting moment. One I’ll never forget.
Please see below for the teaser trailer. Alternatively, keep scrolling to find a link to the recently released full film.
Fred Teaser Trailer
Fred Short Film