The students at a high school teaming with young vampires and zombies must learn to work together when an alien attack catches everyone squarely off guard. But can they quit bickering and put their differences aside long enough to save the world?
Freaks of Nature is an everything but the kitchen sink kind of horror comedy (The film was originally going to be called The Kitchen Sink). Sometimes that approach works but in this case, it’s often tedious and provides the impression that screenwriter Oren Uriel (Mortal Kombat Legacy) was just kind of throwing stuff at the wall to see what stuck. Actually, nearly all of my problems with this film stem from the screenplay.
I’m not trying to say that this kind of idea can’t work because it can (True Blood–in its early seasons–is a good example of the supernatural mashup done well). But Freaks of Nature does not really succeed at melding multiple genres together. It would have been wise to have just picked one and stuck with it. As it is, the viewer kind of gets lost in the muddled mess that is put in front of them. There are a lot of cameos from really talented people like Patton Oswalt (Dude Bro Party Massacre III), Denis Leary (Suicide Kings), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) and more. But I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of the talent associated with the film was underutilized. Bob Odenkirk is a talented and highly capable performer but the role that was written for him here was just not funny. It was supposed to be but I didn’t connect with him at all. The primary cast is given a little more to work with. Nicholas Braun (Red State), Mackenzie Davis (The Martian), and Josh Fadem (Contracted: Phase II) are all likable enough when they aren’t bogged down with overly precious dialogue. But unfortunately those moments are few and far between.
Another problem is the pacing. The film is basically front loaded with a lot of action that sets up the rest of the film but that made it feel incredibly awkward and uneven in the much more dialogue-heavy second half. The conclusion felt really anticlimactic. I wanted to see an epic denouement. But what we actually got left me feeling like the film had gone out with a whimper instead of a bang.
Overall, this is a tough one for me to make a recommendation on. Some critics loved it and some of you may really like it. But for me, I just found it to be sorely lacking from a scripting perspective and that caused a variety of problems with the finished product.
I blame director Robbie Pickering for some of the film’s faults but when you are working with a subpar screenplay, there is only so much you can do. If this sounds like your kind of thing, you can check out the film on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD now. It was somewhat unceremoniously dumped on home video without a lot of fanfare but I can kind of understand Sony’s hesitation to pump a lot of money into promotional considerations.
Special features on the film’s home video release include: A gag reel, deleted scenes, and an alternate opening. I wasn’t bowled over by any of the extras but it’s always nice to get a release that isn’t strictly bare bones.
WICKED RATING: (4 / 10)
Director(s): Robbie Pickering
Writer(s): Oren Uziel
Stars: Nicholas Braun, Mackenzie Davis, and Josh Fadem
Release: February 9, 2016
Studio/ Production Co: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Length: 92 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Supernatural, Horror Comedy