Directors (and writers): Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein
Cast: Lexy Kolker, Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Amanda Crew, Grace Park, Ava Telek, Michelle Harrison, Matty Finochio, Aleks Paunovic
A bold girl discovers a bizarre, threatening, and mysterious new world beyond her front door after she escapes her father’s protective and paranoid control. – IMDB
In a cinematic time when superheroes are at every turn in television and movies, Freaks is a breath of fresh air taking on a similar premise of X-Men with a little girl with some odd abilities. Freaks is not about the explosions or snarky comebacks or the generic fighting the evil villain so much as a story about a girl who lives in a small world with a father who protects her from the outside world and what is going on because of her differences. What are those differences and what is the bigger story involved here?
Those are all things to discover as the story takes its time to unfold one layer at a time. There’s a depth in the mystery in this film as well as the world building at hand to how they view the “abnormal” people in the society taken with more care through the eyes of a young girl who has been separated from the real world for all her life and finally experiencing it. It questions the whole idea of who to trust while not completely knowing what the deal with her secrecy and her father’s paranoia. The success of Freaks lies in it being well-scripted, well-executed as well as well-paced as well as in its unknown and how these things mostly all come together by the end.
While there are some great supporting characters (which I will talk about later), Freaks hinges on the performance of young actress Lexy Kolker who delivers this 7 year old character Chloe naturally and believable. There’s an intensity to her character as her emotions fluctuate mostly out of frustration and having to deal with being trapped and controlled in her small environment while looking out into the intriguing world outside. What might seem in other films like a 7 year old acting out and being rather intolerable to watch somehow fits the scenario here as we get to see the effects of those moments to those around her because of those unknown abilities that raises the mystery of her capabilities. Its a well-designed character to begin with that stems out into those around her.
The prominent role is her father, played by Emile Hirsch who takes on the paranoia and creates this world of fear for her daughter. As the story goes on, there are scenes that somehow form who he might be through insinuation but when he has his reveal, it becomes a very clever twist in the big picture. The same goes for Mr. Snowcone, played by Bruce Dern that has his ice cream truck outside Chloe’s home and their first interaction already reveals that there is so much more to this old man in the spectrum of things. Both of these performances are subtle and yet every scene that they interact with Chloe adds some more to the story.
Overall, Freaks is a really great movie. Its not your typical movie about abnormal people in the society or in some sense, superheroes. Its fairly slow-burn but then its also very reasonable in its run time that things get paced really well and revealed gradually. There are some incredibly clever plot reveals here that give this so much charm. Its always nice to see a film take a different angle in familiar territory. This is a very satisfying effort and definitely one worth a watch.
*Freaks will be released digitally on December 3, 2019 and on DVD/Blu-ray on December 10, 2019*