Occasionally a film comes along that breaks down barriers we, as a society, try to ignore; taboo topics that nobody likes to address but we all know are there. Some Freaks is one such film that successfully dismantles those themes, with humour and wit and a little romance.
Matt (Thomas Mann) is a bit of a recluse. Not that surprising when you consider that the poor guy has to wear an eye-patch, all day everyday, to cover his damaged socket. Picked on by the jocks at school, he finds solace playing video games with his best friend, Elmo (Ely Henry). That is until he meets Jill (Lily Mae Harrington), a confident, sassy, self-confessed ‘fat girl’, who’ll take any snide comments down in one sarcastic raise of her eyebrows.
Finding comfort in the fact that they understand each other’s pain, Matt and Jill quickly hit it off, even attending prom together as the ‘oddball’ couple. However, refreshingly, neither care; they’re just happy in the company they keep.
Fast-forward six months and Jill is back in LA, attending university, while Matt saves his wages to pay for a plane ticket. He also has a surprise for her; he’s paid to have a fake eyeball fitted, a chance to feel ‘normal’. But it turns out Jill also has her own, more permanent surprise for Matt…and his reaction isn’t how you’d expect.
What Some Freaks does right is the chemistry between its cast members. Mann‘s Matt is self-conscious and nerdy, but in the privacy of his own friends he’s sarcastic and loose-lipped (RE: an awkward moment when he tells a ‘fat girl’ joke, only for Jill to overhear). Harrington‘s Jill is sharp, self-aware, brave. Marin Ireland as Georgia, Matt’s older sister, is a piece of genius casting – all high cheekbones and sinister, judgmental stares. And, finally, the line-up is finished with Ely Henry‘s Elmo, a guy so uncomfortable with his sexuality he puts himself in dangerous situations to prove he’s ‘normal’.
That, in retrospect, is the moral and central theme of Some Freaks. Its characters all try so hard to fit in, despite their protestations. Matt wants his sight, Jill wants to be thinner, Elmo doesn’t want to be gay – and they’ll all do whatever it takes (even ruin stable, comfortable relationships) to get what they want.
At times heartwarming, at others depressing and, quite frankly, shocking (RE: Matt vs. Jill in a parking lot), Some Freaks is the perfect mix of teenage lust, drama and exploration. Just don’t expect its characters to take the normal route in order to ‘find themselves’.
Some Freaks screens as part of 2016’s Fantasia International Film Festival programme.
Find all our of Fantasia 2016 coverage here.