Freaks review: Emile Hirsch returns to the science-fiction genre as an over protective father who must save his daughter from the horrors of the world around them.

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In Freaks, young girl Chloe lives boarded-up in a dilapidated house with her paranoid survivalist father. She spends her day indoors practising her backstory in case of capture. You see the world outside isn’t safe, and the backstory is required in case anything happens to dad whom repeatedly states ‘you need to lie to be normal’. It’s a tough life and Chloe spends her time dreaming about ice-cream, escaping into the world outside the house, and having a mother to love her. After a falling out with dad, Chloe finds herself outside alone and it seems the place she’d always dreamed about visiting might not be so perfect after all.

Freaks is a timely science-fiction tale that tackles issues of illegal immigrants and segregated communities under the guise of the mutant ‘abnormals’ or ‘freaks’. Following the discovery of people with superpower abilities, the Government have enforced them all to move to the mountain and to keep out of ‘normal’ folks way. Those that want to live amongst the normals must declare themselves, but they risk retaliation and prejudice from their neighbours. The issues of course sadly ring oddly familiar in today’s social climate, and the film offers directors Adam B Stein and Zach Lipovsky a unique platform to get their view over to audiences.

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Happily, this is a movie about super-beings that is, for once, grounded in reality. It’s in the vein of Chronicle, minus the shaky camerawork. Yes, characters can distort time, control minds, teleport and fly, but this isn’t a shiny Marvel movie. The abilities are mainly kept in the background, letting the drama of Chloe learning the stark reality of the society in which she lives, take the forefront. There’s also plenty of time to delve into the relationships between Chloe and her parents.

It’s been a little while since we saw Emile Hirsch, but he’s on his typical top form as the nervous, over-protective father. However, Freaks is a film that belongs to young star Lexy Kolker. She has the most screen time of anyone, and has to venture into some dark places for a child, but she never wavers in her performance. Much like Jacob Tremblay in Room, you’ll fall in love with her child-like innocence and will be rooting for her to get the happy ending she so desperately desires. Chloe isn’t all sweetness though, and there’s a sprinkling of Looper‘s Pierce Gagnon defiant nature sprinkled into Kolker’s performance too.

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A clever idea told from a fresh perspective, Freaks is not the film you think it will be at the start. Much like its characters, it evolves and offers something a little special. The world created is rich in information, and could perhaps benefit from some sort of television series to fully explore everything.

Freaks is essentially what would happen if the X-Men were to have lived in Room within the Chronicle universe. It’s been a long time since you’ve seen a sci-fi film quite like this.

Freaks review by Kat Hughes, March 2019.

Freaks screens as part of Frightfest Glasgow.