If the extremely indie Norwegian horror film “Til Freddy” begins with a very familiar premise (or two or three), it certainly takes it in an intriguing direction. Things begin as they generally do, innocently and normally. A group of twentysomething guys, all freshly graduated from college, decide to take one last camping trip together before they all inevitably go their separate ways.
Simple enough, and with plenty of potential for scares. But then writer-director Viljar Bøe throws a rather unusual wrench into things. Shortly before they head out, one of them, Freddy (Nicolai Narvesen Lied), discovers a box with a series of letters that claim to predict the future. And Freddy’s is looking pretty bleak, since he’s informed that one of his friends will kill him on the trip. As his seemingly scripted life begins to unravel, Freddy has to ask himself how well he knows his friends, and as the horror builds, just how far he’s willing to go to save his own life.
What follows is a kind of genre spin on “Compliance,” with Freddy being warned that he’ll pay the ultimate price if he deviates from the instructions in any way. But what Freddy utterly fails to recognize is there’s a third choice, one beyond ignoring the letters or obeying them, and that’s taking his fate into his own hands. That he doesn’t seem capable of that is the ultimate tragedy, one that is the catalyst for the bloodshed to come. The movie doesn’t sugarcoat the violence or the reactions to it, with one of the most heartrending moments being the group’s inability to not only recognize a real gun, but Freddy’s intentions.
“Til Freddy” may clock in at a slight 71 minutes, but it leaves an impression, enough to wonder just what Bøe would have accomplished had he gotten the kind of budget that commonly passes for indie in arthouse theaters, especially when he literally wears his influences in his role as one of Freddy’s friends/suspects. As it is, it’s not quite enough to create a sense of the forest closing in on the group, and there’s some choppy editing, as well as some rather queasy decisions related to the one minority character. Some of this at least can be explained by the fact that this is Bøe’s first feature, and hopefully we’ll get a better sense of him in his next film, which certainly did leave me intrigued enough to want to get to know him better.