Freaks Parent Guide
A brilliant sci-fi film - at least for the first two-thirds of the movie. As for the rest? Meh.
Parent Movie Review
Chloe (Lexy Kolker) has been trained to lie about her past and her father (Emile Hirsch) insists that she never step outside their front door. But Chloe isn’t content to hide out in her room – she dreams of walking free and starts finding ways to peek outside. When she meets the man driving the ice-cream truck, Mr. Snowcone (Bruce Dern), he tells her that there’s more to her life than her house, and that there’s something she doesn’t know about her mother…
Freaks starts strong, with a tense atmosphere that threatens to strangle the heartfelt emotional connection between Chloe and her dad. Unfortunately, the tone shifts around the third act as the film veers off course into comic relief. This is a mistake. While the jokes are (mercifully) funny and understated, they dissolve most of the tension that the film has built up over the past hour, thereby reducing its impact considerably.
Movies like this live and die by their child actors, and Lexy Kolker is phenomenal. In turns tragic and terrifying, this eight-year old can outdo the adult casts of most movies. Emile Hirsche and Bruce Dern are also in fine form, but little Lexy really steals the show. (For contrast, see the wooden child acting in films like To Kill A Mockingbird or The House With a Clock in Its Walls.)
Despite the quality of its acting, Freaks comes with some negatives, particularly in content issues related to its Restricted rating. The violence is graphic enough to gross out some viewers: if you don’t want to see a few people get stabbed in the eye with a pen, you should skip this one. The twenty swear words, and especially the four sexual expletives, also push this film into R-rated territory. Violent content is somewhat balanced by some thoughtful messages, primarily about how we as a society treat people we fear. In a world where many countries have interred people en masse for little more than being born, the film’s premise is chillingly realistic. It can act as a catalyst for badly needed conversations about current policies in many jurisdictions.
Good points aside, I felt disappointed as I walked out of the theater. The first two thirds of the film are fabulous, until the writing drops off towards the end and sucks the atmosphere out of the movie like a screen door on a spaceship. I feel bad criticizing what is essentially two-thirds of a great movie - but the third act really does kill a lot of the fun in this production. The brilliantly crafted tense atmosphere is the movie’s biggest casualty…aside from the lost innocence of a seven-year-old child who has the ability to kill people with her mind.Directed by Adam Stein & Zach Lipovsky. Starring Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, and Lexy Kolker.. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release September 13, 2019. Updated March 19, 2020
Watch the trailer for Freaks
Rating & Content Info
Why is Freaks rated R? Freaks is rated R by the MPAA for violence and some language
Violence: Individuals are frequently shown crying or coughing blood. On two separate occasions, individuals are stabbed in the eye with a pen and then shot. An additional eight people are shot to death. Several individuals are reduced to red goo. A dead body is shown.
Sexual Content: None. One instance of sexually crude language is used.
Profanity: There are four uses of extreme profanity, and approximately twenty uses of other categories, including terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: An individual is shown using vodka to sterilize a wound, but no alcohol is consumed by any character.
Page last updated March 19, 2020
Freaks Parents' Guide
Chloe’s dad seems mean and restrictive for no good reason, but she comes to realize that the world is even more dangerous than he let on. What rules do your parents have that seem unreasonable to you? Which of them made more sense when you got older? Do any make less sense?
Suppose these “abnormals” were real and had destroyed a city as portrayed in the movie. How do you think your government would react? How about your society? What do you think you would do if you were in charge?
The government in the movie forcibly imprisoned almost all of the “freaks” in designated facilities. When has that happened before in history? Is a similar policy of internment currently happening anywhere in the world?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix takes place in a dystopian future with strict population control laws, forcing third children into hiding, much as Chloe is forced to hide because of her abilities. The rest of the books in that series follow the struggle of the illegally born children to blend into, or perhaps overthrow, the oppressive regime.
In The Chrysalids, John Wydham imagines a post-apocalyptic world where nuclear radiation has wiped out much of humanity and left the survivors obsessed with genetic mutations. Mutated plants are destroyed and babies with genetic abnormalities are abandoned. But what happens when a mutation is invisible? A group of children who can communicate with their thoughts are about to find out.
The most recent home video release of Freaks movie is December 10, 2019. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
The Darkest Minds imagines a world where a virus has killed half of all children and has left the other half with new powers. The government has gathered children into camps to try to “cure” them. Except for the kids with mind control powers. Those kids get killed…unless they escape.
The X-Men franchise deals with many of the same themes of fear and prejudice towards supernaturally gifted individuals. The reboot series, starting with X-Men: First Class is not nearly as good as the originals, starting with X-Men (1999), which star Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. Frankly, anything with both of those men in it is worth watching anyway.