Also known as “Two Pigeons”, you may think “Freehold” doesn’t really qualify as a horror film. It’s certainly creepy and undeniably horrible things happen in it but there’s nothing supernatural or murderous at work here, just a blackly humorous act of karmic retribution that puts a chillingly plausible spin on being ‘home alone’.
Hussein is a sleazy, amoral estate agent, forever in search of his next commission, regardless of the needs or feelings of his clients. But unbeknownst to him, one of the casualties of his greed and callousness has secretly moved into his flat and begins a hidden and deliciously malicious campaign of revenge.
Mim Shaikh provides an excellent focal point as the wide-boy estate agent who obliviously destroyed the life of Orlan (Javier Botet) in a property deal and is struggling to understand how his life is spiralling out of control, completely unaware that Orlan has secreted himself into the hidden spaces of his flat.
Claustrophobic and surreal, debut feature director Dominic Bridges turns an unsettling urban legend concept into a disturbingly plausible tale of comeuppance, cleverly using the limited space of the setting to increase the tension. Cannily realising that the audience will willingly embrace increasingly disgusting actions when the victim is unpleasant enough, Bridges starts the incidents small and relatively innocuous before steadily escalating as Hussein’s world unravels in convincingly unfathomable ways.
Creepy and gross – this is not a film for the germaphobes – much of the horror comes from the unfeasibly thin Javier Botet’s ability to convincingly contort his wiry frame so as to remain hidden even in the smallest of spaces. It’s a rare in-person appearance for the performer, more used to appearing in makeup and costume as some spectral monster in the likes of “Crimson Peak”, “Alien Covenant” and “It”.
Sharp, witty and as lean as its unseen tormentor, “Freehold” is a delightfully disgusting cautionary tale which reminds us to be kind and to never, ever trust estate agents. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to check behind the sofa, under the beds and in the back of the wardrobe…