Review: Freak Out

Posted by Peter Hall - November 5th 2006 @ 7:45 pm

Directed by Christian James, 2004
Written by Christian James, Dan Palmer

Freak Out

Christian James’ first feature film, Freak Out, is the closest you’ll get to a Troma film without the Troma label.  That is, perhaps, the best available litmus test for whether or not you’ll enjoy the film.  If you’re a fan of low budget schlock, you’ll love it.  If you’re not, you won’t.  It’s that simple.  If extreme, stale, moldy cheese doesn’t mix with your palate, you’re not going to like it.  However, if that is your pleasure, Freak Out delivers a four course meal of bad movie goodness.

It starts out promising enough with a young boy being shunned miserably out of school, only to shout an hilarious declaration that he will return to the school in exactly 13 years to massacre all his bullies.  He then walks off into the sunset laughing maniacally.  The sequence is then cemented as one of the funniest in the film as it cuts to 13 years later, the grown boy having escaped from a mental institution and returning to the Redwater School, only to find the building has been torn down and the school closed for years.  He mutters a perfectly delivered, "Shit!", before wandering towards the town.

After some character introductions, the bulk of the plot is unveiled as the wannabe serial killer is taken under the wing of the horror film obsessed Merv and his typically crude sidekick, Onkey.  The two train the failed killer (montage style!) to become the scariest, most lethal killer England has ever seen.  One thing leads to another and their Frankenstein monster does exactly what Frankenstein monsters do and they’re left frantically trying to control him.

The 92 minute run time does have its share of hits and misses.  The gags that connect do so with great resonance, but the ones that miss can sometimes dip into cringe worthy territory.  The quality of humor is decidedly immature, but that’s exactly what a no-budget Troma-esque film should be.

There are, however, some great nods to the ground-breakers James and Palmer clearly wish to be.  Evil Dead gets a chuckle inducing reference, along with Friday the 13th and the killer wearing both the potato sack and the hockey mask at the same time.  Merv’s room is also covered in wall to wall vintage posters which makes for fascinating eye candy whenever on screen.

It’s exactly what you should come to expect from a movie with a $9.5k budget and a 4 year completion time.  It’s a movie most easily recommended to you or your friends younger brother.  You know, the one who gets together with his friends and films equally lame horror shorts after school.  They’ll fall in love with it and idolize the filmmakers distribution success story.  More mature fans will find nothing but tiny scraps of enjoyment, but complaints from serious fans should carry little weight, for Freak Out clearly didn’t have them in mind.

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