A rare science-fiction treat too tantalizing to miss.



Emile Hirsch and Lexy Kolker


From Georges Méliès’ iconic man in the moon to the first full-length feature, Metropolis (1927), ‘sci-fi’ has captivated our imaginations and inspired real-life advancements in technology. Aliens, clones and mutants are replacements for our own exploration of the unknown within our universe and ourselves. The genre works best when the otherworldly puts us in touch with our own humanity, as when the illuminated index finger of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial touches Elliott’s third eye, assuring him “I’ll be right here.” Rutger Hauer’s “Tears in the Rain” soliloquy from Blade Runner also comes to mind, as does Amy Adam’s ultimate decision in Arrival. The frontier of space and time brings us to the heart of the human condition, a desire to communicate, be understood and coexist.


Not to be confused with the 1932 Tod Browning film of the same name, Freaks is a gripping and brilliantly constructed sci-fi thriller written, directed and produced by the talented duo Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein. The story unfolds through the eyes of Chloe (the wonderful Lexy Kolker), who lives a life set apart from the outside world, which ‘dad’ (Emile Hirsch) insists is filled with peril. The plot is disclosed on a strictly need-to-know basis, which provides the experience of discovering this world as Chloe does. The film takes the necessary time to develop characters and invites you into Chloe’s haunted world, a place she begins to question. The siren call of a sunny day and the portentous tune of an ice cream van are tempting diversions from the dismal confines of a boarded-up house. Mr Snowcone, Bruce Dern in a beautifully nuanced and layered performance, calls Chloe to follow her impulses and step into the light.


Full of rich performances, intelligent metaphors and significant heart, Freaks is likely to develop a cult following over time. Beyond the external trappings of science fiction, the film focuses on the relatable transition into adolescence. That moment when curiosity leads us to begin questioning and defying our parents. Where other voices start contradicting the parental narrative. When we begin the process of self-discovery, learning more about who we are and how the world sees us. An admirable desire to protect children often stands in the way of their personal growth. It’s ultimately up to us to embrace our talents and find our calling. The film expresses that we don’t need to hide from who we are. ‘Weird’ is relative.




Cast: Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Grace Park, Amanda Crew, Lexy Kolker, Aleks Paunovic.


Dir Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein, Pro Adam Stein, Zach Lipovsky, Jordan Barber and Mitchell Waxman, Screenplay Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein, Ph Stirling Bancroft, Pro Des Moe Curtin, Ed Sabrina Pitre, Music Tim Wynn, Costumes Mia Fiddis.


Amazing Incorporated/Wise Daughter Films/My Way Productions/Storyboard Capital Group-Well Go USA Entertainment.

104 mins. 2018. Canada/USA. US Rel: 13 September 2019. Cert. R.