Film: Freaks of Nature
What We Know So Far: In the cozy town of Dilford, Ohio, U.S.A., humans, zombies and vampires live peacefully among each other until an alien spaceship arrives and causes the once harmonious community to turn into all-out warfare.
Trailer: (Official #1) WARNING: Red Band Trailer
David: In my review of The Final Girls (2015), I wrote briefly how certain films and genres have a familiar trajectory from inception to sequels to homage, reinterpretations and reboots to parody and finally, meta. With cinemas wholly saturated with zombies and vampires these past ten to fifteen years, there have been a number of films that poke fun at the tropes set by the originals. Looking at this trailer, I realize that I must add one more after meta to the list, and that is melting pot, a mix of sub-genres and defining elements into one work. Perhaps the Scary Movie films would fall under this label, but Freaks of Nature is not quite the same. It’s a stand alone film that is not setups and gags, appearing to be fully-fledged story that plays with the familiar, well-tread upon tropes of several horror cliches. Like parody films however, it is packed with lots of mostly well-known faces and while the trailer is a lot of chaos, with grabbing and biting and explosions, it’s hard to imagine that it can sustain the premise for a full run time. As it stands, with a two-minute trailer, it feels like there is already nowhere to go with it, as if it might have been better as a skit than a film. That said, the idea is funny and there are some genuinely good moments in the clip. Probably better as a rental, Freaks of Nature looks to be a mostly unmemorable experience and truly, now that his film is happening, and we have the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) also on the horizon, is looks like there is no end in sight to this current obsession with the undead. Also, the title Freaks of Nature just doesn’t seem to work and hardly encapsulates the premise, missing out on an opportunity for a clever, B-movie riff.
Dan: Speaking of B-movie, I’m going to disagree and say this one looks like a lot of fun. It has a Return of the Living Dead (1985) meets Shaun of the Dead (2004) vibe. The premise is super nerdy: aliens invade causing humans to somehow turn into vampires and zombies. The humans must team-up with the blood suckers (including Mackenzie Davis from The Martian) and walking dead to defeat the aliens in order to save their small town. The zombies here have some sort of humanity that remains, like the living dead from Warm Bodies. That doesn’t mean every zombie has a heart though – as we see one victim get savagely attacked after he makes a nerdy T2 reference. The jokes keep coming as he colour commentates his own death, rather astutely, ’’Zombies are eating me . . . Why won’t I pass out?’’
The comedic emphasis with this wacky War of the Worlds turned R-Rated Mars Attacks mash-up is the most enticing element. There should be a lot of first act jokes before the War part. The writer and director probably had a great time with the whole setting up the World part too. There are some great supporting actors along for the ride, like comedians Denis Leary and Bob Odenkirk (Saul from Breaking Bad). Charmingly violent and gloriously Grindhouse, Freaks of Nature looks like a good option to blow off some steam and laugh at some ridiculous situations.
What to Look for in the Trailer
David Says: Keegan-Michael Key shows up at the one-minute mark and lets out a classic, Keegan-Michael Key scream that is easily not just The Sneak Peak Moment because of how funny it is, but that it elevates the comedy. His brand of humor (along with his partner Jordan Peele) has been breaking ground for years and here, dressed as a bland middle-aged suburbanite (that may be a high school teacher, which as a fan of the Key and Peele show, makes me giddy) who appears to be reacting to the alien’s arrival, he absolutely owns the trailer, showing up again bit later with a foul remark. With Key onboard, there is some hope that this could be better than it looks, which isn’t to say the film as whole looks bad, just spread thin. Admittedly, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find enthusiasm for anything that has to do with zombies and vampires at this point, which I am sure this movie is trying to make a comment on, but so far, falls flat.
Dan Says: There are several laugh out loud Moments in this goofy sneak preview. Our hero has to survive an alien invasion by working alongside vampires and zombies. It’s a crazy situation, or as the scantily clad Vanessa Hudgens puts it, ’’It’s the end of the world, I guess there’s only one thing to do.’’ She spreads open her legs. Yes, in that way. Our hero can only reply with, ’’Damn. That’s a close shave.’’ This sophomoric joke also gives you an idea of the crude low brow humour involved. My Sneak Peek Moment is when they meet other survivors hiding out in a bunker or something. Patton Oswalt’s character is anxious about the apocalypse. He says, ’’We may have to breed.’’ Mackenzie Davis freaks out, ’’Is he looking at me?’’ Oswalt replies with a creepy smile. There’s so much chaos going on, but it seems like the movie will take time to make us crack up whenever it can.
Oren Uziel (screenplay)