There's something dark and devious beneath the surface of writer/director Alexander Jeremy's 27-minute short film Fred, a film that takes the complicated grief of a young woman, Lily (Susie Kimnell), whose partner James has recently passed and tosses into it the combustive and obsessive adoration of a seemingly harmless friend of sorts, Fred (Samuel Woodhams), whose grief is expressed in a decidedly different manner.
Woodhams's Fred bears more than a passing resemblance to New York City's Preppy Killer, Robert Chambers, whose impossibly good looks masked his trouble existence revealed after the murder of 18-year-old Jennifer Levin in 1986. It was a famous case then and remains one now and a similar feeling of menace hangs in the air throughout Fred's entire running time.
To Jeremy's credit, he never plays Fred so simply, slowly and patiently revealing his cards and never really giving it all away. This is a film you'll find yourself wanting to discuss as the closing credits scroll by and you may find yourself wanting to watch it all over again.
It helps, of course, to have co-leading performances as those served up by Woodhams and Kimnell. Kimnell wears grief on her entire being, her body radiating an aura of despair and complexity. Woodhams, on the other hand, is an intriguing chap whose 500 Days of Summer like dance moves about six minutes into the film are simultaneously mesmerizing and eerie as f***. There's a whole lot bubbling underneath the surface of Fred and watching the details, from MJ Lee's precise choreography to Nathan Gordon's brief yet effective turn as a janitor to any number of other little moments that you know add up to something more, is absolutely essential.
Both Kimnell and Woodhams do tremendous work here and it's a blast watching how Jeremy ties it all together.
Ant Dickinson's original music is perfection, while Lee Wiley's "Time on my Hands" use is simply sublime.
D.P. Jasper Cable Alexander lensing is exceptionally creative and effective, bathing Woodhams in a sort of nostalgic, sentimental glow while practically submerging Kimnell in a suffocating shadow of bluish tones.
Fred is a beautifully written, engagingly brought to life short film that lingers in your heart and your mind long after the closing credits have scrolled and you're left wondering what it all means and what all you missed. With a tremendous ensemble cast and production values that transcend its low-budget nature, Fred is definitely a film to check out.