If you love films where universe building is part of the main narrative and superpowers are the theme of the story then look no further than Code 8 and Freaks. This review will contain spoilers, due to the discussion of major plot points.
Both films were received a wide release in 2019, with Freaks embarking on a film festival run for much of 2018. I decided a double review was in order after watching Code 8 as many may know of one of these films but not the other. If you’re a fan of futuristic settings and science fiction moving parts, both of these movies will scratch that itch.
What is the Movie Freaks About?
Getting straight into Freaks, this film for me was the strongest of the two. The film, Freaks begins its narrative leaving you with the impression a father and daughter are hiding from terrible monsters. Chloe and her dad live in a ramshackle abandoned house. The doors are adorned with many locks, windows are covered over and both look disheveled. There is something dangerous outside and both practice dealing with whatever is outside.
“Freaks,” written and directed by Adam B. Stein and Zach Lipovsky and takes the theory of what the world might be like after Glass. Or perhaps a story like this might continue after films like Brightburn or X-Men. Freaks, overall, does a pretty good job of defining the relationship between Chloe and her hyper-vigilant dad who is teaching her to deal with whatever lay outside their door. It’s easy to pick up that dad wants Chole to be able to blend in and teaches her how to field questions about who she is and what her life is like. After all, her main agenda is simply going outside and being able to play with other kids who live in her neighborhood. She especially wants to buy an ice cream cone from the truck that’s often parked outside her house.
Slow Burn Story
Subsequently, what I loved about this film was the slow-burn nature of the story as it plays out. Cards aren’t put on the table for some time. By the time the main agenda and text is brought to the forefront, there were elements I was not expecting. Plot holes are filled in with the use of time altering superpowers. The safe-haven mentioned throughout the film is turned on its head and Chloes view of what she knows verses what she has been taught promptly destroyed.
The story writing is complex yet easy to follow and highlights the filmmaker’s success as a great team. There is just enough straying from the usual tropes to make it more than entertaining.
At any rate, I definitely recommend adding Freaks to your watchlist.
I give Freaks
3.5 report any abnormal activity to 1-800-517-5890 out of 5
Freaks Cast Starring:
- Emile Hirsch
- Bruce Dern
- Grace Park
- Amanda Crew
- Lexy Kolker
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Similarly to the film mentioned earlier, people with special powers have largely become criminals for simply existing. In the film Freaks, governments are so fearful of the abilities of some, there is a widespread genocide or incarceration of any known examples. Here the use of special powers is against the law. Code 8 describes the law enforcement trigger for announcing a person with special abilities. Most join construction crews as a means to an end. Of course, like many underemployed and economically disadvantaged people, they are taken advantage of. Underpaid and overworked, there is an obvious discord building up. These people are not to use their powers, it’s against the law. Reports come in and armed forces fly in and make arrests.
Again this film is character-driven. In Code 8, we begin with mother and son. Garrett and his mom live in an apartment and both keep on the down-low. News clips are shown on television of the war between government agencies and those with powers. There is even a widespread drug present taken from the spinal cords of others and used by specials to get high. Law enforcement is looking to eradicate the groups buying and selling ‘psyche’ and there is a clear divide between those looking to lead a normal life and those fighting against it.
Garett’s mother is ill together they work to keep a roof over their heads. As Garret’s mother becomes increasingly ill society’s injustice seems to be at the forefront of Garrett’s mind. When his mother collapses and is admitted to hospital Garrett’s involvement in large scale crime takes hold.
Code 8 Was Made From a Short Film
For those unaware, Code 8 was expanded from a short film made in 2016. You can watch it below. The films’ main character Garrett played by Robbie Amell is present in both. The dynamic from short to feature film is changed. In light of the differences, what must be celebrated is the low budget effects which are a massive success in both. The idea to extend the original film was launched with crowdfunding and was so well received, it hit way above it’s intended budgetary goal of $250 000.
With this in mind, the story in Code 8 is still a solid dystopian science fiction foray within a society scared of losing its power to those with their own. To point out there are certainly many tales with the same essential ingredients is a given. Perhaps some of the volition here in this story is lost by having too many moving parts but it still remains a worthy addition to the types of films people like with outcast type superheros suppressed because of their unique abilities.
I give Code 8
3 do you need an electrician or not? out of 5
Code 8 Cast Starring
- Stephen Amell
- Robbie Amell
- Kari Matchett
- Greg Bryk
- Laysla De Oliveira
- Peter Outerbridge
- Sung Kang