Freak Out | Varied Celluloid

Freak Out

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 18 - 2008
Plot Outline: Merv is a dedicated horror fan. Far beyond dedicated one might say. Onkey, his best friend, is a complete moron. The two of them however cross paths with a young, and slightly flamboyant, young man who has all the reasons in the world to seek out revenge against a society that rejected him as a child (and has since caused him to constantly wear a mask over his head), but sadly lacking any of that killer instinct that Merv’s favorite horror heroes had. Merv takes it on himself to help guide this mysterious stranger in the ways of the slasher – but really, is creating a homicidal killer REALLY that great of an idea? My money is laying on a definitive “no”.


  


The Review: You guys out there may have noticed the big banner for Freak-Out on the main page for a while, and now here I am reviewing it. It seems the people over at Anchor Bay are growing more interested in releasing quality independents these days and not just new editions of Dawn of the Dead or the Evil Dead series. Okay, that was a joke. Still, I have to commend them for releasing the likes of Dead & Breakfast as well as this film here. Two very funny and innovative horror-comedies, and even though I’m not even a huge fan of British comedy – I have to say that between the two films, Freak-Out is the decisive winner hands down. If you wanted to bring Shaun of the Dead into the mix though, things might be different, but Shaun and Freak-out are two very different forms of comedy. Two films going for very different laughs altogether. While Shaun took a more relaxed and very British way of spoofing the horror genre, Freak-Out is definitely the slapstick answer to that film if there was anyone searching for it. Parodying slasher films instead of the zombie subgenre, can you blame it for being a bit silly amidst the silliest of our beloved cinematic realm?

For the most part, all I have read from my fellow horror aficionados out there is that my opinion of Freak-Out is the general consensus. There are however a few people here and there just not very susceptible to the out and out silliness of Freak-Out. As intelligent as I think the flick is, this is purely slapstick comedy. A lot of the time linear storytelling is outright abandoned for the sake of a comedy bit. Then there are things that just come from out of left field, like our leading man’s grandmother popping out from the attic door looking VERY much like one of the deadites in the original Evil Dead; only poking her head from underneath the attic door instead of a cellar. Very oddball and outrageous comedy that even if you don’t get the reference (but, by this point, who hasn’t seen The Evil Dead?) is still so absurd that it becomes humorous. I don’t know if Freak Out quite has the mass appeal that Shaun of the Dead had (especially since Zombies are in, and Slashers are pretty much out), especially since it’s just such a silly little flick – but I definitely see it developing a fairly large cult appeal to it that will probably develop even larger over time. Freak Out is so over the top it might as well be animated, and the humor is so varied that it’s impossible to pin down with just one comparison. You have to go as far as Monty Python in terms of the randomness on display, to Jim Carrey who you have to imagine (despite their lampooning him a bit) was a source of inspiration for the entire cast. I don’t know how popular they are across the pond, but one definitely gets a very Three Stooges feel along with all the zaniness. From a filmmaking standpoint however, I will guarantee that the first thing that was viewed amongst the whole cast, had to be Bad Taste by Peter Jackson. I would literally be shocked out of my boots if they didn’t watch the film along with Dead-Alive/Braindead at least a dozen times during production. The filmmakers leave their numerous admirations firmly on their sleeves, but refrain from stealing the ideas of others – which is a breath of fresh air when in comparison to a lot of would-be horror filmmakers out there.

Freak-Out is a flick I see doing big things in the future. The audience for it right now is already at a decent cult size, but as it continues to enjoy success, I am sure things will just get bigger and better every year. I’m looking forward to seeing what these guys do next. Hopefully they continue to work in the horror genre, because hey, us geeks never get tired of this sort of inward humor do we? Sure, it sometimes strokes our egos when we get all of the little inner-jokes, but overall it is worth it at the end of the day if you can get a room full of solemn, pastey faced geeks like myself to crack up during a non-early Zucker Brothers movie. Freak-Out isn’t a perfect movie. It certainly doesn’t have the lush photography of Shaun of the Dead, as the budget was… need I even say how many times under it was? Never the less, it was made for far less moolah. Some of the jokes are caught up in the banter of the characters at times, and it can be a bit distracting – and some jokes just needed a bit more development to really hit it out of the park, but when you get into the jokes that fall flat you are counting on one hand – in comparison to using your toes, your best friends hands and toes – and recounting your own limbs to keep up with all of the jokes that really do work in the movie. Overall, it’s hard not to like Freak-Out. I just can’t imagine anyone walking away not having a good time unless they purposefully set out to do so from the beginning. Well, I guess there will be a minority in every audience, but for the majority of people out there open to the British form of humor – Freak-Out does not disappoint.



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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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