Strange Nature, the feature debut of James Ojala, is a sci-fi thriller that could easily become a reality, and is worth a look on that basis alone.
From director James Ojala on his feature debut (with previous credits for special effects and make-up for such blockbusters as Thor, X-Men: The Last Stand and 2012), comes Strange Nature, a sci-fi thriller surrounded in mystery.
Strange Nature brings us to a small-town community that has started to discover deformities in the local wildlife, with the frogs being the first to be discovered. We also have people going missing. When single mother Kim Sweet (Lisa Sheridan, TV’s Invasion) returns home to care for her sick father Chuck (Bruce Bhone) she starts to look into the deformities with local school teacher Trent (Faust Checho, The Fields) only to learn that the frogs are only the beginning and soon people could become deformed.
When it comes to the sci-fi genre, we have started to ask ourselves the more serious questions; this film continued that by trying to explain what is causing the unusual deformities in the wildlife. Unlike Annihilation, which takes us to a new world, this focuses just on the small, realistic changes to DNA. We can see with the frogs just what we will get, not getting carried away with the deformities. The question comes from what would cause this to happen; is it man-made or is it just the normal evolutional pattern?
With those questions in place, we need to see the shock value. The frogs do have extra legs, which starts simple; soon we get to see what else has changed, the practical effects coming into play here, with certain creatures looking pretty horrific. While we won’t go into just what we will be coming up against, we do know early on something is hunting people down. The settings used in the film take us to a small town community which shows us just how connected they are; we know the troublemakers, the outsiders and most importantly how they react to the returning Kim.
When we dive into the cast we get a strong performance from Lisa Sheridan in the leading role; she is a single mother who is driven to protect her son while remaining scientific when discovering the deformities. The fans of wrestling will see John Hennigan (John Morrison in WWE, Johnny Mundo on the indie scene) continue his acting career, this time not in the lead role and mostly filling the role of local redneck who will turn to violence for answers. This is against the typecast we have been seeing from him and doesn’t let him show off any of the parkour skills we often see in film. Stephen Tobolowsky is the biggest name; a face you will always remember if you have seen Groundhog Day, he gets to play the mayor and wants to cover up any outbreak. It could easily be argued that we did want to see an extra scene or two from his character though.
If you are a fan of Annihilation, Strange Nature is going to be one film that you should be checking out. Any sci-fi film that could easily become a reality is worth seeing, and this is one I would be recommending.