Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Bunk of Horror: Freak Out (2015)

Freak Out (Mesuvag Harig) (Israel, 2015)
Rating: ***
Starring: Assaf Ben-Shimon, Eran Peretz, Itay Zvolon, Kye Korabelnikov, Ofer Ruthenberg

Behind the honor and glory, one can agree that war is a horrible thing, especially if you're not mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for it just like our protagonist in this movie.

An office-based Israeli Defence Force soldier, as well as a nerd by all definition possible, Matan's lack of experience in combat makes him an easy picking for the three combat soldiers he'll be working with for a week patrolling a remote base in Givat Kfir, North of Israel. Surviving the pranks and humiliation, though, is only the beginning of Matan's troubles when, during a night he is left to do watchtower duty, he discovers that he is far from alone.

Taking cues from movies like Carrie (1976) and Evilspeak (1981), Freak Out sets itself as a slowburn horror flick taking its sweet time building the situation and its characters, particularly the protagonist, before the laying waste on them in your typical bodycounting fashion. Albeit this plot is nothing new, the direction for this is surprisingly decent as our lead, despite being overall pathetic with him constantly phoning and texting his mother, still manages to be empathetic as we can clearly see he’s barely qualified to be out in the open where, knowing Israel’s case with its Muslim neighbors, danger can be literally six feet away with a knife ready to jab. Add the fact that almost everyone around Matan wants to torment him in one way to another simply paints the picture further that Matan is standing underneath the Sword of Damocles which, by the third act, eventually drops not only on him, but everybody else.

With this, Freak Out (2015) has that sense of looming dread that you know will escalate sooner or later, which became the case once Matan gets left alone to overlook the base while the soldiers and their leader goes for a night out at a nearby town. Forced in a situation that includes a skinned dog and a gang of masked intruders, it's mostly fair thrills and scares for our reluctant hero as he gets stalked and chased around the base by possible Arabs, but a little twist in this predicament leads the movie to a more familiar hack-and-stab finale that wonderfully takes advantage of both the claustrophobic and isolated settings the story has, though a bit rushed and predictable given how little running time was left at that point and how one scene kinda made it obvious that one of them may be not all there on the top.

For its worth, at least the murders are satisfyingly bloody. (I am a bit disappointed, however, that the most gruesome kill happens to be a flayed dog) The cultural backdrop is also a commendable pro as it gave a neat take on a would-be standardized story, something that I could always appreciate from foreign slashers. Though the plot leans a bit on the foreseeable and the gunky grue is nearly absent, Freak Out's high quality performances from its small cast, gripping pacing and workable execution still makes it a thoroughly watchable and fun movie from our friends at Israel, and it doesn't look half bad with its production value. With this, I say give this movie a go should you ever get a chance to see it, don't expect too much of a masterpiece and you'll do just fine!

1 dog slaughtered offcamera
1 male strangled to death with a belt
1 male hacked to death with an axe
1 male had his throat cut with a knife
1 male knifed to death
Total: 5

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