A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Freaks of Nature is a horror-comedy featuring vampires, zombies, aliens, humans, and even the occasional werewolf. Characters ultimately learn to put their differences aside and work together, but the violence is very strong (albeit played for humor), with fighting, biting, stabbing, killing, brain eating, blood spattering, and blood oozing. Teens talk a lot about sex, attempt to have sex, kiss, and (more or less) actually have sex (naked bottoms shown, but nothing more graphic). Language is strong and constant, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and much more. A secondary teen character smokes pot regularly, parents appear to be high on some kind of drug, and an adult character regularly drinks scotch. Several products are mentioned, mainly for humor. The movie doesn't try very hard, but it's still somewhat likable.
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What's the story?
In the town of Dillford (home of the riblet!), humans, zombies, and vampires live together under an uneasy truce. Teen ballplayer Dag (Nicholas Braun) has trouble fitting in and has an unrequited crush on Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens). Petra (Mackenzie Davis) has a crush on a vampire boy and lets him bite her, turning into a vampire herself. And Ned (Josh Fadem), the misunderstood smart kid in school, allows himself to be bitten by a zombie, hoping to get rid of his troubles. But when aliens invade and the townspeople take to the streets in an all-out riot, this unlikely trio must band together to find a way to survive -- and perhaps even save the town.
Is it any good?
This horror-comedy starts off with a good idea -- i.e. monsters learning to work together -- but doesn't take it very far. The likable characters and a few laughs are the only worthwhile things in it. Braun, Davis, and Fadem effectively convey a sense of teen alienation and dissatisfaction; when they work together, it's all the more satisfying.
But, as written by Oren Uziel (a co-writer on 22 Jump Street), Freaks of Nature has surprisingly few laughs, especially given such big-time comic talents in supporting roles (Denis Leary, Bob Odenkirk, Joan Cusack, Patton Oswalt, etc.) Only Werner Herzog conjures up a chuckle as the voice of the lead alien, but that's mainly because of the casting choice, not because of anything he actually says. It could be that, perhaps, the filmmakers were focused on making a dirty comedy instead of creating comedy out of their initial idea.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Freaks of Nature's violence. Does the gore make you laugh or squirm? Is it disturbing? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
Is the movie scary? What elements from horror movies are used? What's the appeal of zombies and vampires in movies?
Why would Petra agree to be turned into a vampire? What about Ned becoming a zombie? Did their decisions solve any problems?
- In theaters: October 30, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: February 9, 2016
- Cast: Nicholas Braun, Mackenzie Davis, Josh Fadem
- Director: Robbie Pickering
- Studios: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use - all involving teens
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