Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told 2024 Movie Review

Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told

The much-anticipated Freaknik Hulu documentary, which premiered at SXSW on Tuesday night and hits Hulu next week, brings with it a humorous quip: Gen Z kids might be in for a shock when they catch a glimpse of their parents, aunts, and uncles “freaking” on screen. This annual Atlanta-based Spring Break festival, initially designed for historically Black colleges and universities, gained notoriety in the ’90s for its scandalous reputation, featuring public displays of sex, nudity, and, of course, plenty of booty shaking.

Hulu’s “Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told” doesn’t shy away from these allegations. Director P. Frank Williams kicks off the documentary with a montage of blurred-out scenes depicting girls flashing the camera and dancing on cars. However, the film offers an alternative perspective to the scandalous narrative often associated with Freaknik. It presents a history of a vibrant and empowering event, rooted in pure Black joy and youthful exuberance. If you’re expecting juicy gossip, you might be disappointed. “Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told” is more of a light-hearted journey through ’80s and ’90s nostalgia, enriched by informative interviews and a treasure trove of archival footage.

Executive produced by rappers Luke Campbell, Jermaine Dupri, and 21 Savage—both natives of Atlanta— “Freaknik” begins its historical exploration by emphasizing the significance of the Georgia city to African American culture, business, and politics. Notably, Atlanta is home to several prestigious HBCUs, including Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College, where the first Freaknik was born in 1983.

Director Williams charmingly reunites five of the original Spelman students responsible for the inaugural event in 1983—Emma Horton, Monique Tolliver, Amadi Boon, Tony Towns, and Sharon Toomer—during the documentary. The former classmates reminisce on the modest origins of their gathering, which started as a simple picnic in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, for students unable to travel during spring break. The event was dubbed “Freaknic,” inspired by the DC Metro Club’s tradition of throwing “freak” themed parties, which derived from Chic’s 1978 hit “Le Freak.”

Following its initial success, Freaknic evolved into an annual affair, attracting attendees from Black colleges across the region and eventually nationwide. By 1989, the festival gained such prominence in African American culture that it received a nod on the sitcom “A Different World,” which depicted HBCU life. As the years passed, Freaknik became synonymous with music, fashion, and celebration, drawing Black students to Atlanta in a massive city-wide party.

Even as the documentary delves into the more raucous aspects of ’90s Freaknik, featuring interviews with renowned rappers like Campbell, Dupri, 21 Savage, Lil Jon, CeeLo Green, and Too $hort, it maintains a lighthearted and celebratory tone. While there are glimpses of risqué behavior captured on grainy camcorder footage, the overall vibe exudes freedom and enjoyment rather than vulgarity.

Towards the end, the documentary touches upon darker aspects of the festival, including assault and rape allegations. However, the focus remains on preserving the joyful essence of Freaknik. “Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told” succeeds in capturing a moment of unbridled happiness that remains irreplaceable. In essence, it’s a delightful journey through a unique cultural phenomenon, reminding viewers that getting your “freak” on can be a whole lot of fun.