Cast: Lisa Sheridan, Jonah Beres, Stephen Tobolowsky, John Hennigan, Bruce Bohne
Written by: James Ojala
Directed by: James Ojala
Running Time: 1h 40m
Reviewed by: Philip Wade
In the movie Kim, a single mother moves herself and son Brody in with her estranged father. A move which puts her at odds with the towns people when she investigates a mystery affecting the local frog population. When the mystery starts to deepen and affect other animals, Kim takes her issue public and must come face to face with her past mistakes and must deal with them as she tries to convince others that they are in danger.
Except for a few missteps, Strange Nature is a decent film. The characters and the actors who inhabited them acted for the most part like real people, despite at first feeling like your stereotypical caricatures they are fleshed out with some humanity. The local good ol boys may be standoffish bullies and jerks, but they have their own reasons and own insecurities that are touched upon.
Kim and family are just as complicated. Her story has some subtly to it and pain that explains her timidity and resistance she encounters through the course of the story. At first it seems overblown and irrelevant, but it lends to understanding of who she is and where she is coming from later.
The effects in this movie were great. There was no CGI that I was aware of. Which can take you out of the moment quickly. The creature and body horror effects for the most part were well done practical effects, no doubt their realism due in large part to director James Ojala’s background in special effects. The frogs were especially creepy and from what I understand were real and from the mysterious deformations affecting Minnesota that gave rise to this story.
The worst special effect in this movie happens at the beginning, when the audience is being introduced to Kim and Brody. It is obviously a green screen setup that would look right in place with an episode of Seinfeld, and works in sitcom, but in this movie, where characters sticks out like a sore thumb against an overly illuminated background. I’m sure it’s probably because they couldn’t afford a towing rig, the scene is mercifully short and seems to be the only one.
There was some acting during a fight at the school that did not feel right or well directed. It stuck out, but it wasn’t a movie killer, it just needed more work. It was jarring enough to notice, but not bad enough to stop the film or such a big sin as to condemn the film to purgatory.
All in all Strange Nature is worth a watch and it should make the viewer think about some of the possible problems that could be causing these mutations and what kind of impact it could have on humans. The story isn’t heavy handed or preachy with the subject matter. It lets the viewer think about it without the kind of slap-in-the-face flyball moment out of left field that seems to turn people off to movies like Happy Feet or the heavy handed preachiness of Avatar.