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Review: We Are The Freaks


Leo Owen takes a look at We Are The Freaks, but doesn't like what she sees...

In 1990's England three friends embark on a crazy night out akin to Human Traffic.  Narrator, Jack (Jamie Blackley, Misfits), confesses he hates "rioters... politicians... archive footage... mobs... skin heads... goths... films where people talk to the camera..” as a montage of archive footage is shown, immediately suggesting Director/Writer, Justin Edgar (Large) is trying to be clever in his second feature, We Are The Freaks.

Jack explicitly states “This isn't a teen movie" but setting and content don't quite match this claim. Jack and pals are immature pre-university age, either miserably failing, arrogantly choosing to opt out or expectantly awaiting University acceptance letters; Jack plans to study to be a writer, Parsons (Mike Bailey, Skins) is content coasting and Chunks (Sean Teale, Skins) is happy living off the allowances his guilt-ridden extremely rich divorced parents dole out.

Set in Birmingham, opening with Jack working in “underground banking” and snippets of his life accompanying his voice-overed thoughts, We Are The Freaks follows a disastrous night out with Edgar's central characters who go from a visit to their drug-dealer to a bizarre oddly-written house party.

Lead characters may think themselves "freakish" but are in fact more normal than smaller secondary characters. Parents and authority figures are badly written (there's a painful appraisal with Jack's boss and false exchange between Parsons and his parents), perhaps deliberately suggesting we're all characters with our own very unique idiosyncrasies and appearances can be deceptive, questioning how society defines the word “freak”.

The humour is obvious but unfunny with claims from Jack he has "clock dyslexia" and a decidedly odd visit to drug dealer, Killer Colin's (Michael Smiley), pink-lit caravan. Much of the film feels very Trainspotting with flashbacks to previous drug experiences, Colin randomly giving parental advice and a surreal bandstand hallucination.

Jack's university letter pops up throughout the film, stringing together events pre and post party. The party Parson's girlfriend, Clare (Rosamund Hanson, This is England), takes him to and the others gate-crash seems like one of her parent's friend's get-togethers but lacks the explanatory parental presence – it would make more sense in a university lecturer setting. It also seems questionably convenient that love interest Elinor (Amber Anderson) randomly crops up playing the piano at said party.

Elinor's character is not very believable and too try-hard as she questions Jack ("You think I'm mad, don't you? - they all do") before driving over a bin and projectile vomiting onto a closed car window. Alongside Killer Colin, random heart-condition kid, Splodger (Adam Gillen, Fresh Meat) is one of the most fascinating characters but still manages to fluff a death scene, visibly breathing throughout.

There's lots of talking to the camera (Chunks actually says to Jack: "Are you talking to the camera?"), blatant title dropping ("We are the freaks - we have to stick together.") and clear attempts to break the genre ("In teen movies the character always learns something. I hope Elinor learns how not to be a f*ck up"). A neat circular narrative ending loosely wraps up the story and a patriotic red, white and blue colour scheme unsubtly depicts post-Thatcher England.

We Are The Freaks tries too hard to be cool through in-jokes but does nothing new, isn't funny and drags despite its short running time, looking much more attractive on paper than screen. It is 16 years too late, as films like Go and shows like The Inbetweeners have already mastered awkward humour and frantic drug-fuelled nights out. Lead characters challenge you to care about them but miserably fail, resulting in under-written supporting characters posing the most interest. Edgar's script and its realisation ultimately fail a cast who've previously proven their worth.

1 star


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