What I'm Watching: Freaks of Nature
Oop, I've gotten bad at the Trisklets since October, but bear with me. Let me start getting back in the groove with Freaks of Nature, which is a little bit of everything. We got zombies, we got vampires, we got aliens, we got high school drama, and comedy.
I saw trailers for this a bit ago, and it looked fun, but maybe a bit too knowingly tongue in cheek for my tastes. There's a fine line there, and the trailers looked like they were TOO much of a nudge and a wink. Once I feel like a movie is looking right at me and going, GET IT, I back away and scrunch up my nose.
Still, it was just a trailer, and there was enough fun and recognisable faces, that I was on board for when it came out on disc.
The plot revolves around this weird town of Dillford, where the humans have just gotten used to the fact that vampires and zombies live there. They abide by a fragile peace with the bloodsuckers, and the zombies are kept behind walls when they're not doing work or going to school.
An interesting thing with the zombies of this movie, if they stop eating brains, they get smarter and more motivated. It's set up that eating brains makes a zombie not care about what's going on, and go through life in a daze, and this is very obviously a metaphor for stoners. It fortunately never gets into the realm of stoner humour which I dislike, and also a good thing that none of them get the munchies, or we'd all be in trouble.
Anyways, our main cast is a group of kids at the local high school, all with the usual high school problems; jocks, nerds, boys, girls, wanting to be popular, choosing between popularity and your friends, etc etc. We all know these tropes. In fact, this movie is built on tropes. And yet still somehow builds a pretty interesting story.
The trio we follow starts off human, but one of them quickly becomes a vampire because of a the bad boy vamp she likes and wants to sleep with, and the third becomes a zombie because he is so fed up with life and just wants to space out and just...stop...caring.
And then the aliens show up.
That causes the entire town to fall apart, as one side blames the other, and the other blames them back. And the zombies, eh. They don't care. Brains.
From there it's an adventure as our trio tries to figure out what the aliens want, try and survive, and heal the wounds that are tearing the town apart. Like I said, pretty tropey.
Freaks of Nature manages to do one of my favourite cinematic tricks, of setting up little things at the start of the movie that come back as payoffs in a huge way in the climax. Some are obvious, some are less so, but even the ones you see coming, are SO satisfying when done right. I am a sucker for actual setups and payoffs in movies. They don't quite achieve Edgar Wright levels of skill, but they do a good job in their own right.
Speaking of Wright, I am also a big fan of aliens coming to Earth, being condescending to humans, and the human response being a very not polite, "FUCK OFF". This movie totally homaged that from The World's End, but again, did it in their own way, and both scenes stand on their own.
The movie did tend to have a few moments of really awkward forced humour that made me cringe, but the majority of it actually made me laugh out loud quite a few times, and the story was more engaging than I would have guessed.
Freaks is a satisfying movie, that succeeds in being a comedy, that still has a solid story at its core, and only rarely does the plot fall aside for the sake of jokes. It creates a strange world that somehow *works*, and with such a strange setup as a town as this, that's a feat unto itself. I never found myself questioning just how this all works, and just went along for the ride. Having everything be in a terribly fragile balance that immediately collapses at the barest moment of strife, certainly helped. You don't wonder why this works, because pssst, it doesn't, watch as it all crumbles down.
The movie isn't perfect, but it's fun, and enjoyable, and definitely worth a look on a quiet night when you need a few laughs, while also being something pretty different and not just a rehash, remake, or adaptation.