Freaks of Nature (2016)

  • Time: 92 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Horror
  • Director: Robbie Pickering
  • Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Ed Westwick, Denis Leary


In Freaks of Nature, we welcome you to Dillford, where three days ago, everything was peaceful and business as usual: the vampires were at the top of the social order, the zombies were at the bottom, and the humans were getting along in the middle. But this delicate balance was ripped apart when the alien apocalypse arrived in Dillford and put an end to all the harmony. Now it’s humans vs. vampires vs. zombies in all-out, blood-sucking, brain-eating, vamp-staking mortal combat – and all of them are on the run from the aliens. It is up to three teenagers – one human, one vampire, and one zombie – to team up, figure out how to get rid of the interplanetary visitors, and try to restore order to this “normal” little town.


  • “I think I’m having brain withdrawals.”

    Completely hilarious. That’s my feeling about “Freaks of nature”. First I was afraid this would be another high school teen-movie. Eventually this turned out to be a rather absurd, horror-comedy. A kind of “Porkies in Zombieland” with vampires, zombies and a crazy army of aliens passing through. Of course the known types of youngsters were used again. As expected. First you have the cool student Dag (Nicholas Braun) who abandoned his friend Ned (Josh Fadem) because this one still acted nerdy. Of course he’s madly in love with the girl next door Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens), who looks tremendously tasty, but ultimately it’s an impossible love because she’s hooked up with a local jock. And last but not least, there’s also the pathetic girl Petra (Mackenzie Davis) who was bullied by everyone. The moment this concept became clear, I sighed again in an irritated way. But after seeing a group of zombies getting of a school-bus and moving towards the school entrance in their well-known manner plus a macho vampire who tries to seduce Petra in the next scene, it became clear that this could well be an entertaining film.

    It certainly was entertaining. I myself am quite a fussy when it comes to comedy and humor. Rarely it happens that I start laughing spontaneously. Usually it’s just a muffled chuckle or a modest smile. But this time there were a few occasions I had to laugh out loud. Especially the zombie community was hilarious. After the alien invasion, each population began to accuse the others and suspected them of participating in a conspiracy. As a result they all held their own public meeting where they encouraged each other to take action. Needless to say, the meeting of the zombie community was the most calm and subdued one. Funny as hell. The principle of differences between the classes was incorporated shrewdly. The interference of a third party which turned all these groups against each other, looks familiar. Only the resulting confrontation is pretty bloody and ends up in a huge splatter fest (Only it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish who’s attacking who) with quite a few severed limbs.

    Maybe I’m a bit too enthusiastic about this horror-comedy, because lets be honest, it’s a pretty simple story without too many surprises or intricate story lines. It’s a mishmash of genres they’ve mixed together. They’ve kept it lightly and certainly farcical. It sometimes looked like a slapstick horror. And speaking about horror. You should take that with a grain of salt, because this movie won’t give you the creeps. Lets shed a light on the makeup and special effects. The only part that didn’t look so great, was the one with the space invaders. That one really looked old-fashioned. The vampires seemed to be borrowed from the “Twilight” saga. It was the zombie mob that looked sublime. Here the makeup artists really used their complete imagination.

    “Freaks of nature” is a true B-movie. Normally the acting is also of a questionable level in that case. Surprisingly this wasn’t so bad at all here. I suppose the actors had fun doing this flick, since this was very clear to see sometimes. The most hilarious rendition is that of Josh Fadem. The intelligent nerd who came up with this superb idea so he’d be free of all worries. His facial expressions and way of doing sometimes was enormously funny. And you’ll clearly recognize parodies of well-known films. And finally Dag’s totally crazy parents. For a moment I thought it was Adam Sandler who played the father. That would be one of his first roles I really could appreciate. The biggest let down was the climax of the story. Too ridiculous for words. But maybe so ridiculous, it became somewhat funny. I’m sure most will forget this film. But as an inbetweener this wasn’t so bad, even though there was an oversupply of horror characters.

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  • Some movies have so many talented people working on them that a Movie Fan can’t help but take notice. Take the horror-comedy “Freaks of Nature” (R, 1:32) for example. For starters, its screenplay was written by Oren Uziel who wrote “22 Jump Street”, a rare sequel that was as good as the original, if not better. Then there’s the cast: Denis Leary has voiced characters in “A Bug’s Life” and the “Ice Age” movies, been a supporting player in the 2012 and 2014 “Spider-Man” films and starred in the TV series “Rescue Me” on FX. Joan Cusack has a similar resume, which she has been building since 1980. Ed Westwick starred on TV’s “Gossip Girl” and “Wicked City” and played roles in movies such as “Children of Men” and “Romeo & Juliet”. Vanessa Hudgens was a Disney kid in the “High School Musical” trilogy and then graduated to more adult roles in “Spring Breakers” and “Machete Kills”. Bob Odenkirk is a comedian who made a name for himself as the morally ambiguous lawyer in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”. Keegan-Michael Key is known mainly for his comedic work on TV, but began appearing in multiple movies per year starting in 2010. Mae Whitman… well, you get the point. And in this movie, the relative unknowns at least look like movie stars. Nicholas Braun resembles a young Jim Caviezel, Mackenzie Davis made me imagine a taller Zooey Deschanel and Josh Fadem calls to mind one of the Coreys from the 80s (although I still can’t tell my Feldman from my Haim). You would think those kind of looks and that kind of talent and experience would practically guarantee a good movie. You would think.

    “Freaks of Nature” takes place in the fictional town of Dillford, Ohio (“The Home of the Riblet”), where humans, vampires and zombies live in relative harmony. Key plays a high school teacher who, as a vampire, has been at the school for 97 years, and he’s sick of it – every bit of it. Westwick also plays a vampire, but one who (type-casting alert) uses people for his own selfish goals! Whitman’s character plays a zombie who makes zombie life look and sound more pleasant than you’d expect. Leary is a self-made (human) man who started the riblet plant which put the town on the map – and he never lets anyone forget it! Hudgens’ character smokes marijuana (a lot) and uses a classmate’s house as a place to hide her stash. Cusack and Odenkirk (also human) are the hippie parents of Braun’s character, Dag Parker. Two of Dag’s classmates, the pretty but insecure Petra (Mackenzie) and the brainy outcast Ned (Fadem) decide to become a vampire and a zombie, respectively, which means that Dag is now friends with a girl who wants to drink his blood and a guy who wants to eat his brains. Well, maybe “friends” isn’t the best word to describe their relationship. In this small town, these three have known each other their whole lives, but aren’t as close as they might have been as kids. Circumstances force all three to get reacquainted, but fast. Their lives, and possibly the lives of everyone in their town depend on it.

    The uneasy peace amongst the mortals and the undead is shattered by an alien apocalypse. You might think that the town’s three main groups would band together in the face of a common enemy, but this alien invasion (which results in a force field being created around their town) just brings up long-held prejudices and suspicions, leading the vampires, humans and zombies to start fighting and killing each other. Dag, Petra and Ned find themselves in a situation that provides them temporary safety, which allows them to calm down and become level-headed enough to devise a plan to save their small town.

    “Freaks of Nature” has a premise which sounds fun, but fails to deliver on that promise. Too many of the characters are unlikeable and the jokes aren’t nearly as funny as in the similarly-themed “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” (which, by the way, manages to be far more entertaining with far fewer well-known actors). This movie’s problem isn’t just that the actors and the script are uninspired, but the set-up of the story and some of its developments just don’t make any sense, comedically or otherwise. For example, the zombie teens attend high school even though they lack any real language skills or intellectual abilities, the vampire teens also manage to go to school even though it’s during the day (in the sunlight? hello!) and the humans (both the fictional characters and the actual filmmakers) look to be making up the rules to this brave new world as they go, with plot points that seem to come out of nowhere. This movie looks and sounds like it wants to be a modern version of a 1980s-style B-movie, but that’s too lofty a goal for this underachiever. Some viewers may enjoy the film’s aimless quirkiness, but that would take more effort than this movie deserves, in spite of its accomplished cast. “D+”

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