Freaks (Movie Review)

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: A disturbed father (Emile Hirsch) locks his bold 7-year-old daughter (Lexy Kolker) in a house, warning her of grave dangers outside. But the mysterious Mr. Snowcone (Bruce Dern) convinces the girl to escape and join him on a quest for family, freedom, and revenge.  

REVIEW: Adam Stein & Zach Lipovsky's science-fiction thriller FREAKS starring Emile Hirsch and Bruce Dern hits theaters nationwide via Well Go USA Entertainment this Friday. This past weekend I had the chance to sit down with the flick and see what was what. First, let it be known that I'm the type of guy that likes to go right ahead and skip most horror movie trailers. Personally I think they give far too much away, and so I walked into FREAKS knowing next to nothing about what was about to unfold. And this is the best way to see the movie.

The film starts out as more of a mindf*ck than anything else. We're dropped into a house that has been boarded up by Emile Hirsch to "protect" his seven-year-old daughter. We don't know much other than it's dangerous for the little girl to go outside. Who's the good guy here and who's the bad guy? Are the people outside evil or is pappa Hirsch crazier than a sh*thouse rat? Well, the movie plays the back and forth game for most of the first act, giving us little slivers of information about the current state of the outside world via a few quick trips out into the daylight and limited views of TV news. 

But I'm not going to go much further into the movie's plot. That said, the crux of the movie comes from the analogy of a single father doing everything in his power to keep his daughter safe. Whether from imagined horrors or the horrors the daughter might contain herself. And being the father of a seven-year-old girl myself, I know just how much of a nightmare it can be trying to keep her safe – from herself mostly. But for the record, this movie is much more in line with a dark and gritty sci-fi flick than an out and out horror movie. Sure, the film does sport its fair share of brutal violence but it's not wall-to-wall by any means. And when the violence hits it hits like a spike to the eyeball.

To review this film and not talking about the acting on display would be a crime so let's make sure we get to that right here and now. Like most of you guys out there in the world today, I am a big fan of Emile Hirsch. From his roles in big-budget fare such as the live-action SPEED RACER movie to more lowkey contained thrillers such as the stellar THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, Hirsh is always an intense force of nature, and his performance in this film is no different. On top of Hirch's heroic performance, another standout is THE HATEFUL EIGHT and THE 'BURBS star, Bruce Dern. The man keeps us guessing which side of the hero-villain fence he falls on, and it was a delight to see him get down and dirty with a fountain pen when the time called for it. But the big standout here is Lexy Kolker as little seven-year-old Chloe. The tiny actress keeps your eyes on the screen and displays acting chops that hold up to the likes of her much older and much more accomplished co-stars. This girl will be a star one day.

On the technical side of the coin, this film is aces. The cinematography is appropriately gritty, taking on a green-tinted handheld vibe that works to increase the movie's ever-building tension. The production design is also pretty killer, considering most of the movie takes place inside a single home, that home is filled to the brim with detail, and I appreciated the keen eye for character placed across the walls. From there, the movie sports more CGI effects work than you might expect (at least that was the case on my end). It was unexpected and so I dug its inclusion, but that said the effects work was a bit shoddy here and there and that really only served to take me out of the movie. But to be fair, the majority of the CGI is effective. 

In the end, the film plays out like a live-action remake of AKIRA by way of a self-contained horror-thriller. Strong performances all around boast the movie up, but in the end, I think it all runs a little too long in the tooth. In fact, the major drawback to the film is that it felt like it went on forever. A good 20 minutes could have been shaved off this flick's running time and I don't think it would have mattered much at all. In fact, it would have made for a more streamlined motion picture. Especially since the movie keeps getting bigger and bigger until lits basically an out and out Marvel movie. Overall, the film is a fun series of mind games in the first act that eventually explodes into something along the lines of a superhero bloodbath. Plus, the ending is pretty f*cking EPIC. Dont' mess with Mama. 

Source: Arrow in the Head

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