Out now on a limited theatrical run through Icon Film Distribution Australia, independent sci-fi thriller, Freaks, plunges viewers into a seemingly normal world that a little girl is desperate to discover, but cannot escape her father’s protective and paranoid control.
With a vague title like Freaks, there are countless scenarios that could allude to the ominous label, and with such an under-the-radar release, I dare say that most viewers will be going into the film fresh. Shrouded in mystery for a good portion of the 105-minute runtime, it’s difficult to deduce where the madness truly lies beneath, as nothing is what it seems. Chloe, our inquisitive, but isolated seven-year-old protagonist, is tempted to escape her fortified home by the lure of an ice-cream man, Mr. Snowcone (Bruce Dern). However, her father Henry (Emile Hirsch) insists that those outside their doors mean her harm. When things do become more apparent, there’s still that element of ‘why’ and Freaks doesn’t preoccupy itself with trying to explain everything about this ominous environment, but gives just enough to keep the story moving and more importantly, interesting. Without going into spoilers, the subject matter would find a comfortable place in the ever-expanding MCU, although it would lose a lot of its mystique, which is what makes Freaks such a standout among its more mainstream counterparts. Despite a low budget, the production value is of a considerable high standard, relying on only subtle tweaks to the aesthetics of normality to convey a sense of a world that’s undergone a significant social change. Unfortunately, the film gets a little CGI heavy towards the climax with effects that look very dated for 2019, but overall it’s a unique experience. Bruce Dern, who is no stranger to science fiction cinema, is an integral part of the story and gives a solid performance as the friendly and somewhat abrasive Mr. Snowcone, while Emile Hirsch, who looks like he could be doubly for Jack Black, is intense as the fearful Henry. Chloe is played by newcomer Lexy Kolker is convincing in a what is a very naturalistic performance as the film’s focal point.
If you can find a nearby showing of Freaks definitely make an effort to see it on the big screen because I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
(2019, dir: Zach Lipovsky & Adam B. Stein)
production stills courtesy of Icon Fim Distribution Australia