Judge David Johnson used to be known as Freaky Dave but that was only because of his extra toes, fingers and nostril.
Manch Vegas—represent! (For those readers unfamiliar with central New Hampshire vernacular, Manchester, the locale for this film, is fondly and nonsensically referred to as "Manch Vegas," so there you go, a regional joke that 0.06 percent of this site's readership will understand.)
Developed and filmed just a hop, skip and a jump away from where I call home, Freaky Farley turned out to be an immensely pleasant surprise and, no, I'm not saying that because I'm trying to support the local talent. It's really not bad, I swear.
Facts of the Case
Life for Farley Wilder (Matt Farley) is a struggle. He has to constantly deal with his intrusive father, a self-help radio show host intent on turning Farley into a man through menial labor, and the residents of Morgantown berating him with "Freaky Farley" comments every time he strolls past them. The "Freaky" moniker isn't necessarily unjustified, however, as Farley has adopted a creepy habit of spying on women and never changes his striped shirt.
But Farley can only be pushed too far and even the free-spirit influence of his lady-friend Scarlet (Sharon Scalzo) and the ever-looming threat of Ninja, the local martial arts expert, can't contain the rage brewing within his tortured mind. Eventually he snaps and embarks on a violence spree, but his rage will lead him to a mysterious secret, long protected by the Morgantown elite and he will dispatch death with his bare hands.
First things first: I think the distributor or whoever is responsible for marketing this DVD made a mistake. The disc case makes Freaky Farley look and sound like a hardcore slasher pic that may or may not include voluptuous nudity. This is not true, so do not purchase this film if that's what you're expecting. You will not find that anywhere in the runtime. The tagline on the cover claims Freaky Farley to be "a new American horror movie in the tradition of Silent Night Deadly Night 2, Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, Slumber Party Massacre 3 and other later 1970s and 1980s horror." Again, this is misleading (and could you have chosen three more random movies to compare with?).
Freaky Farley is a comedy, more a satire of the horror genre than an actual horror movie. There are some stabbing motions and sound effects to accompany and a minimal amount of blood and one barely visible knife-impacting-a-fake-neck practical effect and Farley sneers a lot, but none of it is even remotely serious. In fact, as the film progresses, things get so bizarre and unserious "horror" will be the last thing you'll be thinking of when you watch Farley and Ninja and the town Wiccan walk into the woods to do battle with…no, no I'm not going ruin it, because this particular plot twist came from so far out of nowhere.
So we're not talking horror movie here. What we are talking is a quirky comedy that is actually funny. I don't know how these guys did it, but Freaky Farley entertained me throughout and made me laugh on more than one occasion. It's bizarre without being contrived, self-deprecating without being self-indulgent, and imbued with a seriousness that says the filmmakers set out to make a real movie. In other words, this isn't the usual homebrewed low-budget crap that is passed off as comedy but is essentially 80 minutes of idiot kids doing things that only they think are funny.
In short, I recommend Freaky Farley.
I also dig the look of the movie (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen). Shot on film, director Charles Roxburgh angled for an aged '70s look (one thing the tagline got right) and it was a good choice, though no doubt pricier than going the MiniDV route. Only one extra feature of note, a longish featurette that nicely details the challenges of making independent cinema.
The Manchester townies deliver! Freaky Farley is big fun (and surprisingly family-friendly).
Not guilty, Granite Staters.
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Scales of Justice
• Making-of Documentary
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