More often than not, comedy-horror films are a hit or miss affair for me. I either get their humour and find them funny or I quickly lose interest and wish I was watching something else. FREAKS OF NATURE is one that I liked right from the beginning, thanks in part to its popular cast and use of several different horror elements, and already it’s a stand-out watch for 2016.
On the surface, FREAKS OF NATURE is a simple story about the town of Dillford, a co-existing community of vampires, humans and zombies, and what happens when an alien invasion unexpectedly occurs. If you scratch the surface and look a little deeper, there’s more to this indie flick than meets the eye, including themes of friendship, acceptance and alienation, plus a really cool mash-up of monsters. Don’t take it too seriously, though — the film itself certainly doesn’t!
When I first heard about FREAKS OF NATURE, I thought it sounded good if a little on the ridiculous side. It turns out that, like any decent comedy-horror, it was, but it was also right up my vampire-loving street. It is by no means a perfect film, but it’s a lot of fun and has a great young cast that manages to make a zombie/vampire/alien film not only watchable but plausible too. This scenario could really happen one day guys, so I hope you’re prepared!
Nicholas Braun does a commendable job of playing awkward teenager Dag, as does Vanessa Hudgens in her role as Lorelei. Admittedly, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Hudgens, but she’s great here, playing it up and embracing her shallow, self-centred character in a way only someone with her background in teen films can. Ed Westwick also stands out, successfully portraying conniving vampire Milan Pinache, whose unquenchable thirst for blood reads like a cleverly written metaphor for sex addiction. Westwick seems to be thoroughly enjoying every second he’s on screen, and I can see why — playing a morally reprehensible vampire is definitely a step up from the suit-wearing antics of Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass.
FREAKS OF NATURE is clearly influenced by numerous TV shows and films, most notably Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It echoes lighter episodes of the cult show in both tone and plot, and I’m sure Joss Whedon himself would appreciate what screenwriter Oren Uziel has done here. It’s obvious that he’s a fan of the fast-talking, intelligently written ensemble cast that made Buffy such a huge hit, and it’s nice to see modern horror films and their writers take a leaf out of the slayer’s book.
The film does have a couple of issues, but nothing that would blatantly distract from its overall enjoyment. Occasionally the pacing is a little clunky, the plot is all over the place and there are one or two loose ends that end up getting less screen time than they perhaps should, but luckily the cast are all talented enough to carry the film through any minor stalling points it encounters.
FREAKS OF NATURE is really funny, well-written, and, for the most part, fast-paced, which makes it successfully stand out in a vast sea of low-budget horror films. It’s blood-soaked and gory with several scenes that will simultaneously make you flinch and laugh, all the while wondering which is the correct response to employ. The whole film works well on many levels, providing humour, horror and genuine incredulity whenever possible. It doesn’t take itself too seriously or lose sight of what it’s trying to do, and it really is just a fun viewing experience. Also, make sure you look out for a very unique alien voice — I didn’t expect it to sound like it did, that’s for sure!
– JENNY DAVIES