Freaks (2018 film)

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Freaks 2018 poster.jpg
Directed byAdam Stein
Zach Lipovsky
Produced byAdam Stein
Zach Lipovsky
Jordan Barber
Mitchell Waxman
Written byZach Lipovsky
Adam Stein
StarringEmile Hirsch
Bruce Dern
Grace Park
Amanda Crew
Lexy Kolker
Music byTimothy Michael Wynn
CinematographyStirling Bancroft
Edited bySabrina Pitre
Amazing Incorporated
Wise Daughter Films
My Way Productions
Storyboard Capital Group
Distributed byWell Go USA Entertainment
Release date
  • September 8, 2018 (2018-09-08) (TIFF)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States

Freaks is a 2018 American-Canadian science fiction thriller film directed, written, and produced by Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein. It stars Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Grace Park, Amanda Crew, and Lexy Kolker, who was seven years old at the time of filming. The film tells the story of a 7-year-old girl named Chloe (Kolker) who is locked in an abandoned house by her disturbed father (Hirsch). The mysterious Mr. Snowcone (Dern) convinces her to escape for his own suspicious reasons.[1]

The film premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, and will be released commercially in North America on September 13, 2019.[2] The film had its festival premiere on September 8, 2018, at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was picked up for distribution by Well Go USA.[3][4]


Chloe's father prevents her from leaving her dilapidated house or from even looking outside their boarded-up windows. It's not clear at first if there are actually dangers outside, as "Dad" believes, or if there is something psychologically wrong with him.

As reviewer Kristy Puchko wrote, "Ever caked in sweat, dingy tees, and a hapless beard, Chloe's father seems paranoid and dangerously unhinged, drilling the young girl on what to say if someone comes snooping. She has an alias to give, along with an elaborate cover story about her family and interests. The hiding, the lying, it all stinks of something unsavory. But nothing is what it seems in Freaks." [5]

Chloe craves being a normal girl. She can hear the haunting music of an ice cream truck outside, and one day she catches a glimpse of a creepy ice cream truck with a handprinted "Mr. Snowcone" sign. When she eventually builds up the courage to defy her father and escape the house, she climbs onto the truck with Mr. Snowcone and into an adventure filled with hope, fear, and violence.



Freaks premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2018. Two days later, Well Go USA Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the film.[6]

After Toronto, the film screened at 29 film festivals around the world, including the Sitges Film Festival in Spain, the Santa Barbara Film Festival, the Cinequest Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, and the Vancouver International Film Festival, where it was awarded the Emerging Director award.[7] The Vancouver festival programmers wrote "Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein's skewed sci-fi thriller ratchets up the go-for-broke audacity as it laces the family drama of Room with genre confections indebted to vintage Spielberg."[8]

Freaks won the Asteroide Award, the top prize at the Trieste Science+Fiction Festival in Italy,[9] and the Audience Award at Utopiales in France.[10] It won Best Film and the Audience Award at the Paris International Fantastic Film Festival and won the Silver Raven Jury Prize at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.[11]

It is scheduled to be released on September 13, 2019.[12]


Rotten Tomatoes reports that 88% of the 30 surveyed reviewers gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 6.92/10.[13]

Germain Lussier of io9 called Freaks "a wonderful, exciting film, filled with complex, robust ideas that not only have a unique twist to them but a realistic grounding that makes them more relatable and impactful."[14]

Writer Kristy Puchko praised the film as "sharp, suspenseful, and emotionally electrifying," "an original and gritty story of love and parenthood," and focused on the emotional power of the film: "I was raw with worry, drawing ragged breaths as tears streaked down my cheeks and my heart hammered with hope for her salvation."[15]

In The Hollywood Reporter, Justin Lowe praised the film's lead performances, stating that Kolker's "semi-improvised performance couldn't be any more authentic and she's well matched with Hirsch, drawing on his own parental experience, as her conflicted and overprotective father. The ever-versatile Dern delivers a slyly subversive turn as Mr. Snowcone, whose hidden agenda involves much more than frozen treats."[16]

Many other reviewers praised the performance of young Lexy Kolker as well. Collider's Perri Nemiroff called her performance "truly unforgettable work"[17] and Variety's Andrew Barker said "relative newcomer Kolker carries the film effortlessly."[18] In its summary of the Toronto Film Festival, TheWrap listed Kolker as a potential award contender.[19]

In December 2018, the Toronto International Film Festival named the film to its annual year-end Canada's Top Ten list.[20]


  1. ^ Toronto Film Festival's profile for "Freaks"
  2. ^ Release date information from Apple Trailers
  3. ^ Fleming, Mike (September 10, 2018). "Well Go In $2 Million Deal For 'Freaks' – Toronto". Deadline.
  4. ^ Vlessing, Etan (September 10, 2018). "Toronto: Well Go USA Takes Sci-Fi 'Freaks' for Multiple Territories". The Hollywood Reporter.
  5. ^ Puchko, Kristy (September 9, 2018). "Freaks Is A Sly Sci-Fi Alive With Surprise And Sentiment".
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Vancouver Film Festival's profile of "Freaks."
  9. ^ Announcement of winners at the Trieste Film Festival.
  10. ^ Announcement of winners at the Utopiales Festival in Nantes, France.
  11. ^ List of Nominations and Awards from IMDb
  12. ^ "40 Films to See This Summer". The Film Stage. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  13. ^ "Freaks (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  14. ^ Lussier, Germain (September 10, 2018). "Freaks Is Like a Great, Independent X-Men Movie".
  15. ^ Puchko, Kristy (September 9, 2018). "Freaks Is A Sly Sci-Fi Alive With Surprise And Sentiment".
  16. ^ Lowe, Justin (September 8, 2018). "Freaks: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "TIFF's Canada's Top Ten list skews a lot younger this year". Now, December 5, 2018.

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