Freak Out
By: Andrew Gillies on May 23, 2005  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Director: Christian James
Starring: James Heathcote, Dan Palmer, Nicola Connell, Chili Gold, James Hicks, Yazz Fetto Screenplay: Christian James, Dan Palmer
Music: Stuart Fox
Tagline: It's Cheap 'n Nasty!
Duration: 94 minutes
Country: UK
Year: 2004
From the minds of writer/director Christian James and writer/co-star Dan Palmer, Freak Out is a brutally low budget film that not only satirises our favourite horror flicks, but also manages to craft an entertaining story along the way. Starring James Heathcote as the picture's lead, and including some truly wacky characters, Freak Out uses some sharp wit and crafty humour to tell a modern day horror story in a different and unusual way.

Merv (James Heathcote) is a horror-obsessed know-it-all who dedicates his life (and his bedroom) to all things horror. So when an escaped psychopath from a nearby mental institution winds up at Merv's home, it's only destiny that Merv decides to train the not-so-aggressive 'killer' into a spatula wielding maniac who would make Jason Voorhees look like a teddy bear. But Merv trains him too well, and creates ultimate killing machine. It's up to Merv and his best friend Onkey (Dan Palmer) to stop Looney's killing spree.

Freak Out was better than I could have imagined. I was expecting some badly filmed, terribly acted and horribly scripted trash that tried to create a new horror Boogeyman. I was ready to watch the film fall apart and for me to regret the ninety or so minutes of my life I wasted.

I was very wrong.

In fact, it turned out to be a hilarious parody of the horror genre that didn't look down at previous movies, but only respected them through its satire. The story is beautifully crafted and the characters are loads of fun to watch.

It's obvious to me that these filmmakers know their stuff when it comes to point and shoot. Although the movie is shot in a handheld shaky way, it's done so on 16mm and is presented in a way that doesn't depict dodgy filmmaking, but makes fun of really bad amateurs. The style is cheesy at best, but it's why it works so effectively. The editing too is stylistic and manages to keep up with the cheese fest created with the camera work. The editing isn't simple, but rather jumps around a lot, using lots of material from different angles. Freak Out is cut well enough to enjoy it visually, but not have an epileptic seizure.

The film never takes itself seriously either. These guys know what they're doing is a load of fun, so rather than trying to make an Oscar contender they make sure to emphasise the bad just to make it even more hilarious than it is. The gore effects are horrendous, but in the context and style, work exceptionally well! You'll scream with joy as the worst neck gash you'll ever see is sliced into cinema history.

The humour in the movie is wickedly deviant. There are some scenes that are so crazy that make you laugh with guilty pleasure, and other scenes that take you by surprise with their witty and clever nature. During one of the movies many memorable moments, Merv takes a shower, which is detailed in some very risqué and sexy camera angles. From the soapy suds to the sexy close ups of his legs; this shower scene will remain in my mind for all the the wrong reasons, for many years to come.

Freak Out, besides having a bizarre storyline, has a great cast that play off each other. James Heathcote as the naïve yet passionate horror lover Merv plays a typically straight character, and is contrasted well against Dan Palmer's portrayal of his less than normal buddy Onkey, who is by far the comic relief in a film that needs no comic relief. His wise cracks and unfashionable ways will drive anyone into fits of hysteria, or moments of extreme rage. Finally, Looney, the 'maniac' himself, is a hilarious spoof of what horror Boogeymen shouldn't be. His lack of enthusiasm and pseudo homoerotic mannerisms are shockingly funny and disturbing at the same time.

This is one movie that should be watched! Freak Out boasts an entertaining story, fast humour and enjoyable characters. Sure, it's absolutely cheesy and contains some really bad effects, but it only makes this movie even more delightful. I won't be surprised if this flick becomes a cult classic. This is definitely one that should be sought after and viewed.
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