Freaks (2018)

Freaks
Director: Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein
Writer: Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Lexy Kolker, Bruce Dern, Grace Park, Amanda Crew, Ava Telek, Michelle Harrison, Matty Finochio
Seen on: 15.1.2022

Plot:
Chloe (Lexy Kolker) lives with her father (Emile Hirsch) in a practically boarded up house. He has forbidden her to go outside, emphasizing how dangerous it is for her. But Chloe can’t help but long for the outside world, especially when Mr. Snowcone (Bruce Dern) drives past her house with his ice cream truck. When her obviously exhausted father falls asleep one afternoon, she can’t resist but running to the truck. A decision that changes both of their lives forever.

Freaks is fine, but it isn’t quite inventive enough to be very memorable. It has some solid ideas and good acting, but it treads along well-traveled paths when it should have allowed itself maybe a little more deviation. Too many superpower movies have come before it.

The film poster showing Chloe (Lexy Kolker) standing on the street next to a turned over police car, a helicopter hovering above.

Superpowers are very en vogue as we all know. And personally, I can understand why. I really do like superpower movies. But because we already got so many of them, newer entries can easily feel a little same old, same old. And that’s exactly the problem with Freaks. It’s not a bad film, especially considering that its budget was probably rather small.

They make good use of what they have, and that’s mostly a good cast, with Lexy Kolker doing very well for somebody so young, and Hirsch and Dern providing good grounding for her with their performances. They also know how long they can do without flashy special effects and when they really need them.

Chloe (Lexy Kolker) and her dad (Emile Hirsch) looking into her closet with a flashlight.

But the world-building feels a little too familiar: superpowered people being hunted by the government, obviously a metaphor for marginalized groups in general, and brown/MENA immigrants who are generally suspected of terrorism in particular (I shall not comment on the fact that the one person of color in the film is the state agent. Or not more than this). Secret prisons and experiments with prisoners that need to be freed. Even the fact that a young girl takes center stage is something that we see a surprising lot. I think it’s fascinating that we get basically more superpowered girls than boys, and then more superpowered men than women (not that I did a headcount, but I’m pretty sure that I’m right about this).

What can I say, I just didn’t feel that the film gave us something new or exciting. And while you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel, you need to at least find something that makes the film feel fresh. Freaks doesn’t manage that despite its good qualities.

Chloe (Lexy Kolker) walking outside, cash in her hand and blood running from her eye.

Summarizing: watchable but not particularly memorable.

2 thoughts on “Freaks (2018)

  1. I loved this one when I saw it at the SLASH Filmfestival a couple of years ago. It definitely helped that I knew absolutely nothing about it going in, thus the whole superhero-angle really surprised me. I concede that the persecution of superheroes is not the most original idea (also see the similarly small-budgeted “Push”, which starred a pre-“Captain America” Chris Evans), but for me, it was still fresh enough to sufficiently distinquish itself from the usual Marvel/DC-stuff.

    • Oh, I missed that this was shown at the SLASH.

      I can see how being surprised by the superpower stuff could help with enjoying the film. I saw the Netflix preview which already featured the most spectacular effects and that did take some of the surprise.

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