Lately, Christopher Landon has been turning the slasher genre over everyone’s head, and nothing will stop him from doing so. While I can’t say anything good about Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, he impressed me later on with Happy Death Day and its decent 2019 sequel. Now, his latest Freaky is something that would’ve come right from his brain.
What’s the Story: Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) is a seventeen-year-old high school student who isn’t exactly in the popular crowd. That doesn’t help when one night after a game, she’s the latest target of infamous killer, the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), but stabs her with an ancient dagger called La Dola, causing them to switch bodies the next morning. Now that Millie’s inside the Blissfield Butcher’s body and vice versa, she has less than 24 hours to change back become it becomes permanent.
Right when I first heard all about this, I knew it had to be the right time because I’ve always wanted a movie where it takes the body-swapping element of Freaky Friday and the slasher surprise of Friday the 13th or anything similar. It’s a spin that has the potential to be the fresh horror movie we haven’t gotten in a while, especially after Blumhouse Productions’ string of mediocre movies in 2020 (besides The Invisible Man). My thoughts? Freaky does its job well enough to make this a good time.
What I can appreciate about Landon’s directing is that he would not take the story seriously, of course, but this goes for the bloodiness you expect. Just the opening sequences alone involving the Blissfield Butcher not only had its bloody moments, but some creative kills that took me by surprise. The kill set pieces didn’t take it to that memorable state, but the overall direction played to the writer/ director’s strengths, showing the perfect balance of horror and comedy for those who enjoy these types of movies.
Sometimes body-swapping movies are scarce since you don’t always by the fact one actor is acting different, if that makes sense. Yet, Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton’s respective characters once they’ve found out they aren’t in their bodies believable enough. Vaughn himself gives the best performance in a comedic role in a long time, probably since Wedding Crashers. Think it’s easy to say it’s pretty similar to what Jack Black does in the recent Jumanji movies, but he’s having a blast playing this teenage girl inside a killer’s body and getting to see him as Millie find some courage as this 6’4 dude, and this made me think he doesn’t get a lot of credit anymore.
Newton has been an actress I’ve been looking forward to seeing in anything at this moment where she has to take on the persona of a killer and not see her as this shy girl who’s afraid to talk to her crush Booker (Uriah Shelton) or just stand out. Now we’re seeing her killing people left and right without the knowledge of others. It was a bummer, though there wasn’t enough of her when she doesn’t say much and she just puts on a sweet jacket to make her look different.
I also have to give credit to the performances and chemistry from Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich as Millie’s best friends, Nyla and Josh. Not only was their first interaction with Millie as the Butcher funny, but the charisma when sharing the screen with Vaughn and/or Newton made for a good pairing.
Will Freaky be entertaining to some? Most definitely. But did I enjoy it as much as the original Happy Death Day? Almost. This has a few issues I had with it. Some of the writing from Landon and co-writer Michael Kennedy could’ve been improved in terms of the dialogue for certain characters, leaning to either unbelievable or too stereotypical. The setup at the beginning with Millie’s character established took a while to get where we needed the actual concept to start. And I honestly call BS on the idea nobody would ever think Newton is ugly or be bullied in real-life because she’s beautiful.
Final Thoughts: Freaky once again proves Christopher Landon can make the blend of horror and comedy work together well. Though not great, there are enough hilarious and gore-filled moments to make this slasher take on the body swap mostly watchable with solid performances from Vaughn and Newton. Just think of this as the tolerable version of The Hot Chick, but with murder that’s worth recommending to watch.