Movie: *** 1/2 out of 5
Extras: ** 1/2
Article first published on Blogcritics.
The most recent examples of mixed monsters are the atrocious Van Helsing and four Underworld films — with an Underworld reboot on the way, which no one wants. So how does the new horror/comedy Freaks of Nature
get away with combining humans, vampires, and zombies who fight their
way through an alien invasion? It certainly helps to have a game
screenplay and cast.
In the town of Dillford, Ohio, humans, zombies, and vampires have
been living in undead harmony for years. After the town was infested
with creatures, it became obvious that everyone could get along, even if
it requires such extremes as zombies wearing shock collars to keep them
from biting humans. That is until an alien apocalypse approaches and
now human teenagers Dag (Nicholas Braun) and Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens)
must find a way to stop the aliens from invading. Aided by
newly-transformed vampire Petra (Mackenzie Davis) and just-turned zombie
Ned (Josh Fadem), they must band together if they want to make it
through the night alive.
Sony delivers Freaks of Nature in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio on a
50GB disc with a sprinkling of special features to keep the transfer
from suffering through the motions. With many action-oriented sequences,
the film could have been a mess if squeezed onto a smaller disc. As it
stands, it has plenty of room to breathe, never showing signs of
banding, aliasing, noise, or crush. Colors are bright and bold giving
plenty of shine to the splattering blood, and detail is always present.
With plenty of sharpness on hand, it sometimes sheds light on some of
the cheaper effects. It makes good on the practical end of things, but
does also causes the wonky CGI to stick out on occasion.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is also a lively affair. Although being a
comedy first, it is a front heavy mix. But when the action kicks in,
dialogue is never drowned out and there’s plenty of bass to keep it
moving. Additional language tracks include a Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD, along
with French, Spanish, and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles include
English, Chinese, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Japanese, Korean,
Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.
Freaks of Nature gets a lot of mileage out of its cast. Braun,
Davis, and Fadem make a likeable trio — I’m sure you can guess why
Hudgens didn’t make the cut of this sentence. And as fantastic as the
supporting cast is — Key, Denis Leary, Bob Odenkirk, Joan Cusack,
Rachael Harris, Mae Whitman, Patton Oswalt, and Ian Roberts — it’s
honestly the little things that help make the film better than it could
have been. With tons of visual gags and background jokes littered about,
keen eyed viewers will get a kick out of the film — especially when
Fadem and Key are in the teacher’s lounge.
Director Robbie Pickering never sticks to neither a
character-oriented film nor a splatterfest, and the results can
sometimes be a little jarring. But for what it’s worth, Freaks of Nature
features a great video/audio combo to keeps the laughs flying and
ensures anyone interested won’t be left wanting more. It is what it is —
a horror comedy — and for a straight-to-video affair, it’s way better