Director Justin Edgar gets nostalgic with this coming of age tale of three teenage misfits in 1980s Britain. Inspired by the London riots, ‘We Are The Freaks’ captures a sense of rebellion at the end of the Thatcher era. Jack (Jamie Blackley) has a dead end bank job but awaits news on a grant to fund a writing degree. Parsons (Mike Bailey) is a lost soul, seeking an escape from his overbearing Conservative household. Chunks (Sean Teale) is the wild one, a burden on society living off the wealth of his divorced parents. With clever quirks and camera trickery from the outset, this aims to be the antidote to the tired teen comedy flick but by wearing so many influences on its sleeve, does it really achieve this?
In the opening scenes, Jack assumes the narrator role talking directly into the camera, introducing himself and his friends. He breaks down the fourth wall in Ferris Bueller fashion, whilst simultaneously poking fun at it, offering a refreshing start. The extradiegetic fun continues brilliantly for about thirty minutes then sadly fades away only to be replaced with a conventional plot, coming close to identical to that of Greg Mottola’s Superbad. The three protagonists share similar attributes to their modern American counterparts and Michael Smiley is brought in as the hilarious Killer Colin – the irresponsible adult equivalent to the policemen who befriend McLovin, the geek position this time around filled by Parsons. Of course, each of the trio want to ‘get the girl’ leading them to a house party. Their paths then separate for much of the middle section giving each a chance to find themselves, only to regroup for a parodist reflection finale. Despite not being as original as it thinks it is, it is still highly entertaining and the performances provide charisma and energy throughout.
Blackley is excellent in the central role, and has believable chemistry with Skins lads Mike Bailey and Sean Teale. The script is fluid, boasting a lot of well timed wit, helping to create a natural dynamic friendship between the three. The young supporting cast is strong, particularly from the desirable musician Elinor with a passion for rave, played by Amber Anderson and outcast Splodger who delivers a foray of fantastic jokes late on. Smiley puts in an expert turn as the aforementioned Killer Colin, a local drug dealer who lives in a caravan and seems to consume most of his stash rather than sell it on.
The opening third is definitely something to behold, Edgar expressing exciting creativity, but as the spectatorship techniques peter out, the film unfortunately loses its edge. The self awareness does rear its head again for an intelligent closing sequence but overall there is slightly too much imitation and not quite enough innovation so although it doesn’t maximise on the potential promised by a truly great beginning, ‘We Are The Freaks’ is very enjoyable and the cinematography is inspirational, providing a wacky interpretation of youth culture of that time.
See the trailer: