FREAKS OF NATURE:
A SURPRISINGLY LACKING MOVIE ABOUT HUMANS, VAMPIRES, ZOMBIES, AND ALIENS FIGHTING EACH OTHER!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C- (2 ½ stars)
A freaky town is about to get even freakier in Freaks of Nature
Where do I even start with this movie? Freaks of Nature has got to be not just one of the strangest horror comedies put together, but one of the strangest films in general put together. A movie about a town where humans, vampires, and zombies live side by side as neighbors, but then mayhem begins when aliens attack, it definitely seemed bizarre judging by the trailer, but it looked intriguing enough to say the least.
However, this film was given a limited release by Sony Pictures, and don’t worry it’s nothing like The Interview where it received a limited release because of the controversy around it, the studio just decided to give it a limited theatrical release so I had to travel far to watch this movie (Actually, the trip to this movie wasn’t too bad!) because the trailer made it look so absurd that I just couldn’t miss it, I wasn’t expecting a Shaun of the Dead or a Zombieland, but I was expecting a wildly stupid but enjoyable film.
And I got parts of that, as soon as I got done watching it, I had no idea what I thought of it, the designs of the creatures are kind of neat and some of the jokes and visual gags can be funny, some of the actors and characters are funny and over the top as well, and the fights between the humans, vampires, zombies, and aliens are pretty fun to watch, not to mention the film does a decent job mimicking 80s horror movies.
But I soon realized how lacking it really was, the film pushes its ingeniously wacky concept off to the side to develop stereotypical horror movie characters we’ve seen a million times, the only difference is one of them is a vampire and the other is a zombie. I pretty much kept waiting and waiting for the aliens to show up and attack them, and more scenes of all the humans, vampires, and zombies running from the aliens and fighting each other.
Our story takes place in the town of Dillford, an average little town that’s actually not so average, where humans, vampires, and zombies live side by side as neighbors. Pretty much everyone is a high school stereotype, the humans are pretty much the ordinary people, the vampires are Goths, and zombies are apparently retarded.
Everything starts off “Ordinary, I guess” until suddenly, a UFO is spotted above the town and all the citizens, undead, immortal, or alive are outraged and start blaming each other for the UFO’s appearance, the vampires claim the humans called the UFO to destroy them, the humans think the vampires did it, the zombies want brains, and so on.
So it’s up to human teenage boy, Dag Parker (Nicholas Braun-Sky High, The Watch, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), vampire girl, Petra Lane (Mackenzie Davis-The Martian), and zombie nerd, Ned Mosely (Josh Fadem) to knock some sense back into the town’s citizens and have them retaliate against the aliens to save their neighborhood, before total freaky destruction.
The film also stars Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical trilogy, Beastly, Sucker Punch) as Dag’s girlfriend, Lorelei, Bob Odenkirk (Seinfeld, Wayne’s World 2, The Cable Guy) and Joan Cusack (Working Girl, In & Out, Toy Story 2 and 3) as Dag’s stoner parents, Denis Leary (Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary, Ice Age franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man) as corrupt businessman, Rick Wilson, Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele, Tomorrowland, Hotel Transylvania 2) as vampire teacher, Mr. Keller, and Patton Oswalt (The King of Queens, Ratatouille, Young Adult) as Dag’s piano teacher, Stuart Miller who helps them hide from the aliens to name a few.
Overall, Freaks of Nature is definitely an ambitious project, a horror comedy about vampires, zombies, and aliens all together, it’s absurd and wacky enough to get something out for the audience. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take full advantage of what’s given to them, the film’s focus should be on all the humans, aliens, zombies, and vampires running around the town fighting, biting, eating, and shooting each other, but instead it focuses more on its three teen protagonists.
The main protagonists aren’t the worst or anything, but they’re not very interesting, and I just wanted them to get through the hokey moments just so we can get back to the freaky apocalyptic mayhem that the trailer promised. It’s one of those times where the trailer was much better than the actual movie, it promised a wild free for all between zombies, vampires, aliens, and humans and it didn’t deliver entirely, it had some decent fights but not a whole lot to get me thoroughly invested.
Going back to the characters, while the main characters aren’t that interesting, the side characters certainly are, Odenkirk and Cusack as stoner parents, Key as an African-American teacher stereotype, except a vampire, and Denis Leary as a corrupt businessman, who is also apparently the mayor or president of the town and a semi-antagonist is hilarious and over the top, while he’s played more for laughs, he’s certainly better than Kevin James from Pixels.
If you just want to see a really bizarre movie just in time for Halloween, you might have some fun with Freaks of Nature, just don’t expect it to be the next Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.