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Blu-ray Review: Freaks

December 11, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Chloe (Lexy Kolker) is a seven year old girl who isn’t allowed to leave the house, kept locked inside by her father (Emile Hirsch), who teaches her survival skills and instills in her that the outside world is a dangerous place. This is the basic setup for Freaks, an entertaining indie genre mashup that makes the most of a modest budget.

The film is set in a near-future world where people live in fear of “abnormals” or “freaks” as they’re often derogatorily called, and covert government agents roam the streets tracking them down. As Chloe becomes increasingly curious about the outside world, and starts tempting fate by trying to leave the house, we are left questioning whether her father is protecting her or keeping her overly sheltered.

Directed by Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein, who also co-wrote the screenplay together, Freaks is the sort of film that I can’t really say much more about without spoiling some of the experience. What I can say is that the film branches off from its dramatic premise to offer a good mix of sci-fi, fantasy, action, thriller and horror, playing like a cross between 10 Cloverfield Lane, Room and X-Men.

Told almost entirely through Chloe’s perspective, the film allows us to discover its secrets as she does, revealing new information to her and us at roughly the same time. Hirsch grounds the film, dedicating himself to playing an overprotective father, and Freaks also boasts an impressive performance from the young Kolker, who throws herself into the emotionally and physically demanding role. Additionally, Bruce Dern does strong work in a pivotal supporting role as a mysterious old man who drives an ice cream truck that tempts Chloe by parking outside her house.

The film’s reach does sometimes exceed its grasp, and a few aspects of it do feel a bit underdeveloped, but Freaks still does a good job overall of keeping us both intrigued and entertained. This is an inventive and consistently suspenseful film that features some decent special effects, and is made all the more impressive for what the filmmakers are able to accomplish on a limited budget.

The Blu-ray also includes a commentary track with the directors, a fifteen minute “behind the scenes” featurette, as well as the teaser trailer and trailer for the film.

Freaks is a Well Go USA release. It’s 105 minutes and rated R.

Street Date: December 10th, 2019

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