Gruesome Reviews

“Freaks Of Nature” (2016): WTF Is Going On Here?

OK, I need everyone to keep up with me here. Because the plot of this movie, Freaks Of Nature, is something of a cluster fuck. A cluster fuck of the highest order. Are you ready? Here I go… f1 The town of Dillford (Home of the Riblet!) is populated by humans, vampires & zombies, all living in relative harmony. They work together, go to school together, they even date each other. But there’s a underlying sense of hatred between the three species. The humans and vampires all live separately from the zombies (who are relegated to the town’s ghetto), and the zombies are generally looked down on. But life is relatively no different here than in any other small town in America. High school student Dag (Nicholas Braun) has a crush on stoner chick Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens), but she has no interest in doing anything but smoking weed with him. His best friend Ned (Josh Fadem) is the brainiest kid in school, which makes him the kid everyone picks on (especially the vampires). Petra (Mackenzie Davis) has a crush on Milan (Ed Westwick), a vampire who’s about to take Petra to her first big Vampire party later in the evening. Later in the evening, Dag blows it with Lorelei, Ned gets picked on by his own family, so he goes to the ghetto, where he allows himself to get bitten by a zombie so he can live a stress free existence (zombies only care about eating brains, which are supplied to them in tins), and Petra (expecting to lose her virginity) gets bitten & summarily turned to a vampire by Milan at the party. And then, just as the townsfolk decide to riot against each other, Dillford is attacked by aliens! The aliens look slightly arachnid, with 2 legs and tentacles that grab anyone they can get their hands on. The ones that are grabbed by the aliens are whisked away, but to where? FREAKS OF NATURE, front, from left: Nicholas Braun, Vanessa Hudgens, 2015. ph: Jamie Trueblood/ ©Columbia Pictures So now the town is ablaze with fires, and the aliens are stalking the streets looking for more denizens to zap away. But Dag, Ned & Petra are still alive. The three of them put there heads together to figure out why the aliens are destroying their town, when Ned (who’s an official zombie now), crunches his head and realizes that the aliens are there for a chemical that’s one of the ingredients in the riblets the town is famous for. So they go to the riblet factory and beseech the owner Rick Wilson (Denis Leary) to give the aliens what they want. But it isn’t that easy, because Rick wants to be recognized as the leader of the town first (after all, he created the riblet, didn’t he?). It all ends with a congregation of the townsfolk, working together to give the aliens what they want. But the aliens aren’t exactly what they seem to be, and once they get what they want they combine to turn themselves into a giant glowing humanoid creature (with an unexplainable German accent) that decides he knows what’s best for the town. Which leads to a revolt against the alien, and after hosing it down with ammonia (another chemical in the riblets), it shrinks down to the size of a dwarf. But the dwarf escapes back to the mothership, and drops a bomb on the town that’ll wipe it off the face of the earth. But Dag is about to undergo a change that he didn’t see coming. Will it be enough to stop the alien bomb and save the town? Did you get all of that? I told you it was a grade A cluster fuck.   Freaks Of Nature took a long & torturous road to get released at all. The screenplay (by Oren Uziel) made the famed Blacklist of the best scripts yet to be produced back in 2010. It was filmed back in 2013 with the far more apt title Kitchen Sink attached to it, but then it went through more than a few release dates and delays. Eventually it was just dumped to a few token theatrical runs last year, with little to no fanfare at all. Director Robbie Pickering must’ve had a hell of a time wrangling all of these myriad plot threads together into a cohesive film, and while he failed miserably, I can’t blame him completely because Uziel’s script is so damned wonky to begin with. The performances are actually pretty good for the most part, and the script attracted some top flight comedic talent to it as well. Keegan Michael Key (who seems to be in every other movie as of late), Bob Odenkirk, Joan Cusack, Patton Oswalt, Rachale Harris, Mae Whitman and Pat Healy are all in here trying to make sense out of all of this in their cameos of varying length. The makeup designs are all excellent, with the zombie designs standing out. The vampires are obviously based on the Twilight series, but I won’t hold that against them. The CGI work is substandard here, but I haven’t decided if that was done purposely just yet. Suffice it to say that overall it’s pretty bad. While all of that schedule shuffling was taking place, I’m positive that the film was tinkered with, because very little here makes much sense. Characters are introduced, then forgotten about, and some of the scenes in which the town is at war with itself are terribly edited. No reason is given as to how the humans, vampires & zombies ended up living together either, you’ll just have to accept that as is. The script just keeps piling on oddity after oddity, hoping that whatever doesn’t slide off of the pile will work. I’m truly curious to read the original script, and see how well it’s been translated to film, because as it stands Freaks Of Nature is a train wreck. freaksNatures   Yet, I had a fairly good time watching it! There’s so much that’s bad in this film, that it sort ended up being kinda good. It certainly isn’t dull, and I grew to like the 3 main characters quite a bit. Braun, Fadem & Davis have a nice chemistry between them that feels natural and unforced. And admittedly, there are a few funny lines/sight gags in all of the mayhem. But the film is so chaotic & unfocused that it’s pretty easy to miss them. Freaks Of Nature is definitely a film so bad, that it ends up being kind of good when its all over. It’s silly, stupid, scatterbrained, insipid, ugly & (for the most part) uninspired. But I can’t say I regretted watching it, and that’s gotta be worth something. I guess you’ll decide for yourselves if/when you see it. But prepare yourselves for the mess that awaits you if you watch it, because it will make your head hurt. Freaks Of Nature 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) f3

The Black Saint
Santos Ellin Jr (AKA The Black Saint) has been watching films of dubious quality since time began, he has also watched a few horror films along the way as well. He has been writing for Horrornews.net for the last four years and was promoted to the position of Lead Theatrical Reviewer/Interviewer/PR last year. He makes so much money doing this that he needs do nothing else with his life but he was also asked to be a co-host of the Horror News Radio podcast last year as well. It’s been said (by a family member) that he is indeed the glue that holds the podcast together although his co-hosts might not agree. He thinks they are all jealous of him anyway.
The Black Saint
Santos Ellin Jr (AKA The Black Saint) has been watching films of dubious quality since time began, he has also watched a few horror films along the way as well. He has been writing for Horrornews.net for the last four years and was promoted to the position of Lead Theatrical Reviewer/Interviewer/PR last year. He makes so much money doing this that he needs do nothing else with his life but he was also asked to be a co-host of the Horror News Radio podcast last year as well. It’s been said (by a family member) that he is indeed the glue that holds the podcast together although his co-hosts might not agree. He thinks they are all jealous of him anyway.