Coming up at eleven: Mutant frogs; will they spell the downfall of life as we know it? The real news clips that begin Strange Nature certainly make a case for it.
After that we get down to the real meat and potatoes of the film; a mother, (and former teen pop sensation…random for sure; but the video they show of her hit song is priceless) named Kim (Lisa Sheridan) and her son Brody (Jonah Beres) return to the rural town she grew up in; the woods of which are lousy with those aforementioned frogs, plus a mutant kid…but not like crazy monster or anything; she goes to school and all, she just looks like she’s starring in the high school production of The Hills Have Eyes: The Musical (how is that not a thing?!!), and reports of folks going missing in the woods.
Anyway, Kim and her father Chuck (Bruce Bohne) begin investigating local farms for clues as to what may have caused the mutant mayhem; and while “in the field” our erstwhile heroes discover a secret furry sex barn (as you may have guessed, there are some weird tangential paths this flick strides my creeps), the use of untested new chemicals sprayed on the local crops, dangerous parasites, and resistance from nearly every resident of the town due to that pop career mentioned above because Kim shit all over the town in interviews during the height of her popularity. What follows is a whirlwind of deformed babies, fucked-up puppies, frog mutants and mutant frogs (not the same thing, trust me), a strapping violence prone human mutant, mutant wolves, and of course, elementary school backpack kung-fu.
Strange Nature is one hell of a fangtastic creature feature; ecologically minded like some long lost ’70’s era nature run amok flick, full of top notch (and practical) special effects and make-ups to realize the various mutants n’ monsters, and featuring a very strong “human” element as Kim deals with both the crisis at hand, and being a single mother with a checkered past…and possessing a sick poppa to boot…everything just congeals into a highly effective, borderline realistic, terror tale that is as disturbing (and trust me it gets very disturbing) as it is engaging. That sounds like a lot; but Sheridan is more than up to the task displaying solid acting throughout, as does the rest of the cast. Also the script written by James Ojala (who also directed the picture) treats the outlandish elements as being totally plausible, which creates a great sense of “Oh shit, maybe this could happen” as you lay your putrid peepers on the film, ya dig?
On the flip-flop; this fright flick is a bit of a slow burn at first…the filmmakers want to make sure you are well and truly vested in these characters when the sinister shit hits the fan, and it takes a bit before the real monstrous mayhem begins in earnest. To that end, I was never once bored, and the payoff was definitely worth the wait in my not so humble opinion!
If you want a creature feature with a hefty dose of realism, and characters you actually give a tinker’s damn about; then cast your eerie eyeballs no further than Strange Nature…it’s gory, gruesome, and filled with grotesques!
Fans of Jordan Peele's mind-bending narratives will have to wait a little longer for his next cinematic offering....