Movie Review: FREAK OUT Shows Potential Despite Its Predictability

FreakOut

Matan is a young man who serves on the Israeli Defense Force. But his role in the military isn’t as your typical grunt – Matan is a military assistant. Not necessarily a secretary, but definitely something clerical, which is definitely better suited for his meek disposition. However, at some point during one’s military service, they may b asked to muck in like everybody else and today is his day.

Actually it’s his week to step up, since he and three other soldiers will be sent to a remote outpost to guard an antenna array. When he finally meets his three fellow soldiers, Ishay, Roy and Uzi, he realizes it could be a long weeks, as they start giving him the business from he get go. Matan’s only lifeline seems to be his mother, who he incessantly texts and calls during his journey to assume his week-long guard post.

When they arrive, Matan begins to calm down, believing that he has found a friend in the outpost’s commanding officer, Stas. But even he takes advantage of Matan’s timid nature, leaving him on guard duty by himself and running off with Ishay, Roy and Uzi for a night on the town…wherever that town may be.

As Matan stands guard from his solitary post, high upon the outpost watchtower, he begins to think ne may not actually be alone. Is there someone lurking around the darkened outpost? And who could it be? Is it locals, unhappy about the outpost’s proximity to their homes? Perhaps it’s his “comrades” taking the piss, and continuing to antagonize him. Or maybe it’s a threat that has been hiding in plain sight all along.

The story isn’t tricky or complicated, and that’s OK. Nobody ever said that a good horror movie needed to have a complicated or convoluted story line. It’s a basic formula that has proved successful for many horror movies. A gorup of people go to a remote location and then somewhere along the line people start getting bumped off. Friday the 13th, anyone, or maybe April Fool’s Day? But what makes this simple formula work is the revelation of who the villain is and the motivation for their actions, and I think the writer, Lior Lederman, does a respectable job of that. Also the ending is fairly predictable, but again, that doesn’t mean it was a bad movie. I can predict the outcome, but still enjoy the narrative that brings me to said conclusion.  There’s also an aspect of confinement that he captures. Despite the fact that these guys are at an outpost, it and the surrounding area are unknown to them. When danger rears its ugly head there’s nowhere to run and hide that it doesn’t know where to find you.

To Boaz Armoni’s credit, he was able to wrangle some solid performances from his cast. Itay Zvolon as Matan, has a bookish and nerdy appearance, not unlike Napoleon Dynamite in military fatigues…minus the moon boots of course. His timid and neurotic demeanor is not so annoying that it makes it impossible to sympathize with his character. In fact it makes one wish somebody would stick up for him when Ishay (Eran Peretz), Roy (Ofer Ruthenberg) and Uzi (Assaf Ben-Shimon) make him the subject of their torment. The trio did a decent job of portraying the stereotypical cock sure, full of piss and vinegar type of young army grunt. Kye Korabelnikov,  in the role of Stas, was able to effectively capture the facets of the commanding officers personality.

One might think a location like a military outpost might be fairly defensible. Well it could be if there was an entire squad of heavily armed troops on hand to defend it. But when there’s a mere handful of soldiers and the location is remote, like no readily available help ANYWHERE in the vicinity remote, then the situation becomes much more tentative. That’s one element that really helps to provide tension in the story. There’s also this bunker with a light glowing an ominous cautionary red in the entryway, but to find out the story behind that you’ll have to dive this film a look-see.

While this film is a bit formulaic and predictable, I still enjoyed it. And while this film is not exactly highly polished, we must all remember that NOT ALL that glitters is GOLD. I would be interested to see what future projects Armoni and Zvolon may be involved in. I must also not forget to inform you all that if don’t speak Hebrew, you’ll have to read the subtitles. See, some of you are already scared and you haven’t seen the movie. Me, I happen to love subtitled movies, so I’m going to suggest, regardless of whether you like subtitles or not, that you give this one a chance, my Little Monsters. 6.5 / 10

 

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