TIFF review: Freaks

Canadian sci-fi thriller about a sheltered girl who ventures out into a strange world could have played well in a Midnight Madness slot

FREAKS DISC D: Zach Lipovsky, Adam Stein. Canada. 104 min. Sep 8, 9:30 pm, Scotiabank 2 Sep 10, 9:45 pm, Scotiabank 4 Sep 16, 6:45 pm, Scotiabank 14. See listing. Rating: NNN

Lipovsky and Stein’s first theatrical feature (after small-screen ventures like Leprechaun: Origins and Dead Rising: Watchtower) unfolds from the perspective of a sheltered little girl (Lexy Kolker) who defies her overprotective, paranoid father (Emile Hirsch) to venture out into a world that… seems pretty nice, all things considered.

It takes about half an hour for the movie to settle into a coherent narrative, but once it does, Freaks becomes a lot of fun. It’s a mash-up of Terry Gilliam’s Tideland and the FX series Legion – a quotidian take on a specific kind of genre story, with clever performances from Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Amanda Crew and Grace Park serving to sell the tricky tone. This could have played really well in a Midnight Madness slot.

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