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Strange Nature (2018) - Movie Review

4 beers

Mutant frogs.  Mutant babies.  Mutant dogs.  Wow!  Remind me to steer clear of Duluth the next time I head north for a lake trip.  Complete with a commentary about struggling small towns in America, Strange Nature is an eco-thriller of science fiction and science fact that ought to scare the hell out of you. 

It’s been a long stretch since genre fans got a good mutant thriller.  FX wizard James Ojala (Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Tron: Legacy) steps behind the camera as director AND as writer and delivers one hell of a flick with Strange Nature, his directorial debut.  It is a film that, in spite of an iffy first couple of minutes, recovers its footing quite well and delivers a very believable sequence of events when it is feared that the waters of Minnesota hold a very dangerous (and spreadable) mutant contagion. 

"a poignant tale that, as far as modern day B-movies goes, really packs a punch"

Based on a real story in which hundreds of deformed frogs were discovered by students on a field trip, Strange Nature begins when a defamed pop singer, Kim Sweet (Lisa Sheridan) and her young son (Jonah Beres), with no other place to go, wind up moving to rural Minnesota to share a house with her estranged father (Bruce Bohne).  There’s no working toilets in the house.  Just an outhouse and a bucket in the house marked “WINTER” for those extra chilly nights.  With a lake nearby, there will be lots of swimming trips, though.  Maybe it will be enough to get them to ignore the inconveniences…

…and maybe being this close to WILD LIFE will only lead to trouble.  There is something deadly out there near the lake.  We know this thanks to some clever POV shots sprinkled throughout the film.  But what is it?  Could be one thing.  Could be a number of things. 

It is on one of those trips to the lake that an emergence of the horror yet to come is discovered.  Mutant frogs.  Not sure what to make of these tiny deformed creatures, Kim eventually brings them to the attention of her son’s new school.  The science teacher is alarmed.  When Kim, due to a growing threat and some weird looking puppies born to her father’s dog, tries to take it to the local newspaper and the local authorities, they accuse of her trying to get her 15-minutes of fame back. {googleads}

That’s not it at all.  But no one in the town will give her a chance to be heard and so she takes matters into her own hands.

While the conspiracy around her – due to the town’s rising fears – GROWS and the mutant strain SPREADS, it’s only a matter of time before blood is spilled.  And spill it does!  Thanks to some really great special effects and a  great team effort from all of the cast – including  Stephen Tobolowsky, David Mattey, Carlos Alazraqui, John Hennigan, Angela Duffy, and Tiffany ShepisStrange Nature is a poignant tale that, as far as modern day B-movies goes, really packs a punch.

Immediately, one is struck by just how REAL these characters feel and act. Kim is at her wits end.  Her father, nice but out of touch, offers what little he can as he attempts to bond with Brody.  And everyone, including the local illegal hunting gang, feels incredibly pitch-perfect.  While, yes, we could have a bit more atmosphere inserted into the flick from time to time, Ojala has an ensemble effort here that quickly makes this mutant outbreak feel feverishly real.

Strange Nature (2018) - Movie Review

And the creature effects are top-notch, too.  From mutant children to mutant canines and beyond, Strange Nature carries confidence in its message and its medium.  The movie is getting rave reviews and attention because, trust me, it is well deserved.  The practical effects here are strong and grisly and shocking in their complex realness.  You may even feel some empathy toward some of these creations EVEN while the small town struggles with its own.  

Strange Nature is released by Ojala Productions and ITN distribution. It is enjoying a very limited run in theaters and will soon be available on DVD and VOD.  This is one release that is definitely not to be missed!

The circle of life indeed, Simba!


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Strange Nature (2018) - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
100 mins
: James Ojala
James Ojala
Stephen Tobolowsky, John Hennigan, Lisa Sheridan
: Horror
A chilling blend of American Graffiti and Psycho.
Memorable Movie Quote: "What's going on with the town? It seems like it's not doing so well."
Theatrical Distributor:
Ojala Productions
Official Site: strangenaturemovie.com/
Release Date:
September 22, 2018
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: In 1995, hideously deformed frogs began popping up in Minnesota ponds. Over the next few years, thousands were discovered. Some frog populations were as much as 70% deformed. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency came up with many possible theories for the cause but nothing definite. It was only known as something in the water. In 2001, the U.S. Government pulled all further research funding. The malformations spread to other states and even other countries such as most recently, India and China.
The problem continues…


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Strange Nature (2018) - Movie Review


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Strange Nature (2018) - Movie Review