Movies are cyclical, with genres falling in and out of favour with relative ease. However, the British film industry has always had an ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. This has led to the continuous rehashing of genres when one movie is a break-out hit. Therefore, the success of Trainspotting led to a glut of youth-centric drug movies and we’re still reeling from gangster movies nearly 20 years after Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. Now the recored grosses of The Inbetweeners means were again getting a lot of comedies with a youthful bent. The makers of We Are The Freaks have decided to think-outside-the-box (sarcasm) and taken a dash of Trainspotting and merged it with a smidgen of The Inbetweeners. What we get is a film that never feels whole. In fact, it never feels like it was completed.
Set in 1990 (presumably just because one of the characters finds Margaret Thatcher sexy), Justin Edgar’s We Are Freaks follows three friends (Jamie Blackley, Sean Teale, Mike Bailey) and their various high-jinks over the course of one faithful evening on the streets of Birmingham. What happens doesn’t feel as bold or wild as Edgar thinks. If you want to make a movie with crazy energy, then go all out, but this feels tame. As if Edgar was worried that his mother would watch it. He wants to take a stab at Hollywood teen movies and subvert the genre but he fails. What he manages to do is illustrate that those films are much better than his own.
The young cast attack their roles with enough enthusiasm, but at times their acting feels like they’re very self conscious. There’s an awareness of the camera (and not just when out characters break the fourth wall) that always makes it painfully evident that you’re watching a film. This could be their lack of experience or Edgar’s lack of skill in teasing performances out of his cast. This is television level stuff.
We Are The Freaks isn’t painfully bad, but it’s not particularly good either. At a slight 72 minutes, it feels more like a collection of random scenes than a cohesive whole. It has a certain youthful exuberance that will undoubtedly appeal to certain audiences, but it’s hard to imagine anyone watching this more than once.