USA, Canada. 2018. Sci-Fi
Director: Zach Lipovsky & Adam B. Stein
Cast: Emile Hirsch (Dad), Bruce Dern (Mr. Snowcone), Lexy Kolker (Chloe)
The great advantage that independent productions have over those of a large production company, is the artistic freedom they have. In Freaks, written and directed by Zach Lipovsky and Adam B Stein, it shows that they had a good idea and that they also knew exactly how to translate it into the screen.
Chloe is 7 years old and has never left her ramshackle and dirty house. She is brought up by her father, who is constantly preparing her to face this terrible outside world. Like any child her age, Chloe misses her missing mother greatly, and she longs to go out and play. The exterior is apparently normal, but her father gets out of his mind every time Chloe even opens the door. The relationship between Chloe and her father is increasingly tense. Adding to all this weird situation, Chloe witnesses strange and seemingly ghostly apparitions in her closet. It is at this stage that an odd old man in an ice cream cart begins to park outside her house. It’s not by chance. Mr. Snowcone is looking exclusively for Chole, and this man is going to change the delicate balance of the lives of Chloe and her father.
Lipovsky and Stein manage to put together a good story on screen. They develop it little by little, and we, as spectators, do not know where it is going. And even better, when we already know the direction that history will take, we do not know how far it will go. For anyone who has read comics, it shows that Lipovsky and Stein are fans of the central premise of Marvel‘s X-men. If the viewer has read these comics, he will know well what is the main influence of the writers. Although for the casual viewer, this can go unnoticed and could miss the central meanings of the whole narrative.
Good acting and a pleaseant surprise.
For an independent film to be successful, given the economic limitations they have, these films must have a good script and good acting. And in this case, Freaks has both. Emile Hirsch is very convincing as Chloe’s overprotective father, which he could convey somewhat easily due to his recent paternity while filming the movie. Bruce Dern as the cynical Mr. Snowcone is a delight. Bitter and resentful, we can see how the old man knows much more than he says.
But it’s little Lexy Kolker as Chloe who carries the weight of the movie. Kolker’s histrionic ability is amazing, considering his young age. To be able to truthfully interpret all the various moods and react to the unexpected situations that Chole faces in the story is a sight to see. In one scene when Chloe is in rage, we could see how a tiny thread of saliva goes out of her mouth. Wow.
Creator knew their limitations.
Given the limited budget of the film, the SFXs are relatively few but effective. You can tell that the creators adjusted the story to limit its use. For a story about super-powered beings, the showing of these powers a relatively few. Since the script explores topics such as family breakdown due to misfortune, and how a child copes with this situation, it results in a group of characters that may be unattractive, and this may not appeal to some viewers. Besides, the general concept of the film has certain limitations, perhaps self-imposed from the initial vision of the creators. It feels like they could have taken the idea even further. But that does not detract from the imagination and energy with which the story is presented.
Better than anticipated.
With outstanding performances and an honest script, Freaks a pleasant surprise. For those looking for a different option for what Marvel or DC deliver in their productions. As I mentioned before, those who read X-Men or know well about the problem of persecution of minorities, in this case, mutants. It is worth mentioning that X-Men was the best-selling publication of Marvel comics for decades. Freaks is going to be tremendously refreshing.
Great acting. With a script that recognizes its limitations and relies upon its originality and honesty. A must for X-men fans.