By Jason Thai
In the new sci-fi thriller Freaks, Chloe (Alexa Kolker) is a 7-year old girl who is forced to live at home without any interaction with the outside world. Living under a set of rules enforced by her paranoid and frantic father, Henry, who will do whatever it takes to keep Chloe in. Henry (Emile Hirsch) continues to limit what she can see of the outside by telling her she should never leave and teaching her how to fit in and act “normal” so she won’t be killed by the “bad people”, if she is ever discovered. Even so, Chloe longs to interact with the world and is curious why things are the way they are.
In this world, ‘freaks’ are beings with super abilities such as invisibility, slowing time, flight, and Chloe’s power to make people do things. The government and the entire world see these ‘freaks’ as a threat to mankind, viewing them as weapons of mass destruction that must be eliminated, experimented on or used against others. (Incidentally, the only way the government is able to tell freaks from normal people is that, when they use their powers, they bleed from one of their eyes.)
It seems to be that Freaks is paralleling the film to real life racism and, more specifically, how Jewish people were treated in Germany during WW2. In the film, freaks are treated as lesser citizens and something to be feared. Media coverage of freaks are negative, as they run ads all over the city telling citizens to turn them in to the authorities. Freaks like Chloe’s mother are stripped of their freedom and ability to use their powers. Then, similar to how Jewish people were sent to concentration camps and then gased or experimented on, the incarcerated freaks are either killed in this world or sent to be imprisoned and experimented on. Living in fear of being captured and sent to Madic Mountai, Chloe tries her best to be normal and hangout with all kids her age. However, they treat her with hate and contempt for being for being a freak. Throughout the film, Chloe tries to deny that she is a freak and prove that she is normal like everyone else. Still, she continues to be shamed by everyone around her, including her father, who wants her to act “normal”. Obviously, this sort of abuse takes its toll on Chloe emotionally and spiritually. Just as racism hurts the self-image of children of minorities, the government’s treatment of the freaks causes them to lose self-confidence and feel shame towards their own ethnicity. However, after using her powers to save her mother and defend herself from those that want to hurt her for simply existing as a freak, Chloe realizes that she should embrace who she is.
As a sci-fi movie, there’s much to like about Freaks. The film has an interesting lore and sets up strong world-building in their story. I also enjoyed the relationship between Chloe and her father, Henry. As a father, Henry does everything he can to protect his daughter and puts her in a metaphorical bubble, feeding her information to warn her of the dangers outside the safe haven of their house. Furthermore, his power allows him create time bubbles to slow time in a contained space, setting a physical bubble around his house to allow Chloe time to grow and be safe. Overall, Freaks is an interesting sci-fi movie that may interest you if you enjoy superhero films, featuring a great story about trying to fit in a cruel world.
Freaks shows its power in theatres on Friday, September 13th, 2019.