15th Dec2020

‘Castle Freak (2020)’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Clair Catherine, Jake Horowitz, Emily Sweet, Chris Galust, Kika Magalhães, Genti Kame, Klodian Hoxha | Written by Kathy Charles | Directed by Tate Steinsiek

The original Castle Freak was released in 1995 and directed by cult horror director Stuart Gordon who is best known for the highly entertaining Re-Animator and Dolls. Starring Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, Castle Freak was also well received and has since picked up a cult following. A following big enough for it to receive this 2020 remake.

Now I’m not as anti-remake as many filmgoers seem to be. The horror genre has plenty of them but it has plenty of good ones too. From The Thing to The Fly to Let Me In and Dawn of the Dead, I could carry on and name more but these prove enough that remakes can be great. Unfortunately Castle Freak is far from great.

The story covers the basic same plot points as a character, this time a young woman, inherits an Albanian castle (it was an Italian one in the original). Unfortunately for her there are creatures living in the castle and she and her friends must discover why they are there and defeat them. And that’s about it. There’s no deeper story here, unlike the original which tackled alcoholism. In comparison, 2020’s Castle Freak feels like so many other sub-par genre movies with soulless, uninteresting characters and a story that I just couldn’t get into.

The actors don’t exactly put in great performances but it would be hard for anyone with some of the dialogue they are given. Each character is interchangeable and have no redeeming traits.

The one thing that saves Castle Freak from being a complete waste of your time are the make-up and special effects, especially the practical effects. It comes as no surprise that the director, Tate Steinsiek’s previous work is mostly in the special effects apartment. Everything from the creatures to the death scenes look great and there’s no shortage of blood and gore. Castle Freak is very ambitious on this side of things but it pulls it all off pretty damn well. Maybe if there was even more of it it would have plastered over some of the other cracks.

Unfortunately, it can’t save the movie though. A movie that features one of the most ridiculous sex scenes I have ever scene and an ending that goes for Lovecraftian in style but in execution was not quite there. It goes for epic and in visuals does succeed. But things get a little weird and the final seconds will no doubt leave most viewers open mouthed but probably not in a good way.

As far as remakes go, maybe companies should be looking more at movies that had potential but didn’t turn out so great. Because when remaking good movies it is a lot more difficult to please horror fans. Castle Freak will not be remembered as well as the original, if it remembered at all.

** 2/5

Castle Freak is available on VOD, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Sky and Virgin, now.


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