Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
April 29th, 2020


Directed by Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein
Written by Starring Bruce Dern, Amanda Crew, Emile Hirsch
104 mins

I've seen some good stuff come out of Well Go Entertainment; these are the people who gave us Tai Chi Zero and the like, and they can commonly be relied upon to deliver some top-notch content. Some of it's better than others, of course, but still. This time around, we get a look at "Freaks," a movie which delivers some fairly interesting notions, but the question--so often the case in movies like this--is "how well?".

"Freaks" introduces us to Chloe, a seven year old girl who is, for some reason, living in terror. The phrase "seven year old" and "living in terror" don't really go well together, so there's got to be a good reason for it. Apparently, there is; Chloe's father is keeping her very tightly under wraps and teaching her some downright terrifying things, like "you need to lie to be normal". But there may well be a reason for it, in something called the Abnormals, a race of horrors that apparently poses a grave risk to Chloe and her father. One day, though, a stranger introduces Chloe to a whole new way of life, one in which the truth about Chloe's existence becomes clearer. Yet the danger facing her is not as unbelievable as we may think.

The first 10 minutes of this movie are a study in bizarrity. Chloe lives in what amounts to a dilapidated house with her father, who is apparently sitting on piles of hundred dollar bills. Chloe is seen routinely adjusting her identity, memorizing skeins of lies to attempt to subvert simulated interrogation staged by her father. There is something going on here, and virtually every instinct you'll have is screaming that the something in question could not be more sinister if it tried. Chloe's father, meanwhile, acts like an extended "Invader Zim" sketch; it's a wonder he's not screaming "I'M NORMAL!" at passersby at the top of his lungs.

I spent entirely too much of this movie absolutely bewildered. What, exactly, was going on here? We slipped between different plot threads with such alarming frequency it was like the script was running at 60 hertz, as opposed to the film itself.

But I give them credit; as purely lunatic and disjointed as the plot is, it's presented with an almost staggering earnestness. I don't want to give too much away, but let me just're going to see a lot of parallels between this and the original X-Men lineup. I won't go any farther than that, but man, this is absolutely nuts. Pretty much all the pure-T lunacy they kicked off with has some spectacular payoff. This is worth every single moment of confusion and is a total joy to watch.

The ending is downright explosive. It caps things off wonderfully, and ties up pretty much every remaining loose end.

Special features include your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, a director's commentary track, some further audio options, a behind the scenes featurette, a teaser trailer, and trailers for "Freaks," "Abigail", "First Love," and "The Divine Fury."

All in all, wow. This is easily one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. The payoffs are immense, and for every bit of confusion the first half generated, the second half will deliver dividends the like of which I haven't seen in a long time. Marvelous effects, a story that starts out baffling and turns out beautifully, and some magnificent performances make this top-notch stuff, and you miss it at your own peril.