By MADELEINE KOESTNER
Starring Nicolai Narvesen Lied, Viljar Bøe and Simen Stensheim Jørgensen
Written and directed by Viljar Bøe
Norwegian newcomer Viljar Bøe’s TO FREDDY (a.k.a. TIL FREDDY, which made its North American premiere at last month’s Nightmares Film Festival) is a thriller about paranoia and trust–a common theme in 2020–with a nice science-fiction premise and some magic tricks up its sleeve. Freddy (Nicolai Narvesen Lied) and his classmates are going on one final camping trip before they head out into the world to start their adult lives. Their bags are packed with booze, buds and junk food, and everyone is ready to celebrate. While taking a walk with Viljar (played by the director himself), they stumble across a plastic box filled with letters, marked with dates and times, all addressed to Freddy. And in the first letter, Freddy is told that by the end of the camping trip, he will be dead.
From looking at the brief list of names making up the cast and crew, it’s evident that these guys made TO FREDDY together in the woods with only a skeleton crew. Bøe wrote, directed, edited, plays a starring role and wears a rad THE WITCH shirt in this, his first feature. Most of the cast share the names of their characters, something that always endears me to a small film like this.
There are moments when it becomes frustrating watching the characters make unwise decisions, but the script provides plenty to chew on even while taking that into consideration. TO FREDDY is a less focused, more dressed-down delve into the same debate this year’s Fox series DEVS engaged with regarding determinism, but it’s an interesting one nonetheless. Freddy’s moral conundrum is a real brain-twister: If he believes that the information in the letters offers the only way to change his road to ruin, he has no choice but to follow their instructions. If he does not, he will be killed. But there is a third choice: to try to change everything. The path that means ignoring instructions from some higher power, and essentially becoming one’s own boss, can be the scariest one of all.
When we are provided with two paths and told that one leads to success and the other to failure, for some, this can be a curse. At the start of the film, Freddy and his pals discuss their next steps in life, the hands they have been dealt and that feeling of having no idea what else there is to do. Myself and everyone I know faced the same dilemma when we were young: we were told to go to college, get a degree, get a job related to said degree or fail. Yet to treat the world as black-and-white, as if there is a one-size-fits-all way to live your life, is ludicrous.
With that as the story’s launching point, and the mysterious box of anonymous advice guiding what happens next, TO FREDDY paves the road for an excellent deep conversation. And at the end of the day, a good chat after the credits roll is what I really want from a movie.