Last year’s film The Babadook was one of the scariest things on the block.
The movie was a psychological horror about a single mother raising her son alone after her husband was killed in a car accident as he drove her to the hospital to give birth. The boy struggled to sleep and and often talked about an imaginary monster; and after reading a storybook called Mister Babadook, the boy becomes convinced that the Babadook is stalking them.
It was a horrific story that certainly caused a few restless nights, but director and writer Jennifer Kent earned heaps of praise for it.
The success and critical acclaim of that film also makes Kent the perfect person to helm Alice + Freda Forever which, despite its name and its ‘tragic gay love story’ description, is just as psychologically troubling and as uncomfortable to hear about as that of The Babadook.
Alice + Freda Forever is actually based on a book of the same name, about a real-life 19th century event in which Alice Mitchell, a 19 year old girl from Tennessee, pretended to be a man in order to marry her girlfriend, 17 year old Freda Ward.
Per the tragic side of that love story, things went horribly wrong when someone discovered their love letters and so Alice and Freda were forced to split up and stop contacting each other.
Alice persevered though, continuing to send Freda messages, but when the other girl didn’t reply Alice slashed Freda’s throat with a razor and killed her. As a result of Freda’s murder (and due to her lesbianism), Alice was soon put into an insane asylum, though she died several years later under ‘mysterious circumstances’.
The situation is also one of the things that sparked the United States’ unfortunate fascination with lesbians as well as the idea that lesbians prey on other women or are inherently violent or mentally ill.
In the 20th century we saw ‘pulp’ novels pop up, with the stories typically involving a butch lesbian and a femme lesbian getting together before one (or both) of them died or left the other for a man. It is widely believed that Alice and Freda’s story is what inspired these books.
Framing the historical context of Alice and Freda’s story will be key to how good or accurate the film is – after all, there is no shortage of dead lesbians or lesbians being treated badly in modern day media.
Producer Sarah Schechter is convinced Kent can pull it off though, as she told Variety that “Jennifer’s debut film was one of the most accomplished I have ever seen and I’m thrilled she shares the same passion for telling this powerful, intense and unfortunately still timely story”.
There’s no word yet on who will play the two women or when the film will be released, but we’ll keep you posted once we know more.