Freaks of Nature Blu-ray Review

Actors: Ed Westwick, Josh Fadem, Nicholas Braun, Mackenzie Davis, Joan Cusack
  • Director: Robbie Pickering
  • Producer: Matt Tolmach
  • Format: Ultraviolet
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Spanish, English, Japanese
  • Dubbed: French, Thai, Spanish, Japanese
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: February 9, 2016
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 92 minutes


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             As often as vampires and other horror monsters have been adopted to teen fantasy narratives (mostly adapted from poorly written YA fiction) or zombie horror is combined with humor (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Warm Bodies, Shaun of the Dead etc), Freaks of Nature is a parody which seems so inevitable in its arrival that it feels somewhat derivative. Everything and the kitchen sink is thrown into the mix, filling the narrative with every usual suspect from the horror genre, while never taking any of it seriously enough for impact beyond pastiche. Even in the gruesomeness of the film’s monster violence (which includes every horror creature, save ghosts) the impact is for humor shock value rather than any intention to inspire fear from the audience.  

     


            Taking place in the fictional small town of Dillford in a future where zombies, humans and vampires live in relatively peaceful segregated coexistence, order is destroyed by the arrival of alien invaders. Despite their differences, these three groups of citizens must band together to stop the invasion in a transparent and unfocused metaphor for modern America. Much of this occurs within the familiar dynamics of a local high school, where vampires, humans and zombies all have their place in the social order.

     

    Prior to the arrival of alien spaceships, Dag (Nicholas Braun) is just a gawkish teenager with unrealistic goals of sleeping with a popular stoner named Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens). With storylines borrowed heavily from classic high school comedies, Dag neglects the faithful friends from his past in his ambition towards popularity and sexual activity, including his former best friend, Ned (Josh Fadem). Disheartened by the lack of support from his family, Ned decides that he would be happier without the obligation of intelligence and intentionally becomes a zombie. Meanwhile, Petra (Mackenzie Davis) allows herself to be bitten by a vampire (Ed Westwick) because she thinks it will make him like her more. Ironically, he has no interest in having sex with her, already relying on Lorelei for that service.

     

    Dag, Ned and Petra are forced to work together when the alien apocalypse begins in the town of Dillford, despite each being from different groups of the monster cliques. At this point the narrative slips into similar themes as The Breakfast Club; but will they still be friends when the invasion is over and everything has gone back to “normal?” Thankfully, we are never asked to take any of the ideas in Freaks of Nature too seriously, which is helped by an assortment of great comedic actors filling the supporting roles. Bob Odenkirk and Joan Cusack are Dag’s weed-smoking hippy parents, Patton Oswalt is his former piano teacher, Keegan-Michael Key is a lonely vampire high school teacher, and Denis Leary is the town’s wealthiest entrepreneur. “Parenthood” star Mae Whitman even has an unflattering cameo as Ned’s zombie girlfriend.

     

    Freaks of Nature may never be as clever as the absurd premise promises, but the willingness to approach the entire endeavor with tongue-in-cheek humor helps gloss over the film’s shortcomings. Don’t take it too seriously and it makes for good campy entertainment. The Blu-ray special features are made up entirely of three types of additional footage. These include a gag reel with many of the comedic actors having a field day, an alternate opening sequence, and a handful more deleted scenes.

     

    Entertainment Value: 8/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10

    Historical Significance:  4/10

    Special Features: 4.5/10





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