TL;DR – A film that finds that balance between horror and comedy, till maybe the last 10 minutes.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Freaky Review –
You have probably watched more than a few films where two people running into each other, or a wish, or just the universe deciding to be a dick, cause the people to swap bodies. It is usually a parent and a child, and by the end of the film, they have both learnt the lesson that both of them have complicated lives and everyone should cut everyone else a lot of slack. I have seen a number of these films, and variations upon, however, I have never seen a horror/comedy version of this … well that is until now.
So to set the scene, Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) is your usual high school student that is not one of the popular kids, so thus is fodder for the popular kids that make her life hell. Adding to that, the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) a notorious serial killer is still at large with no one being able to catch him. Well, one night as Millie is trying to walk home after her mother forgot her, the Butcher attacks. But instead of killing her, the knife he used swaps their bodies. So now Millie has a day to fix this before it becomes permanent and she takes the fall for all those murders … which are still going on but in a different body.
The first thing I should mention is that while this film falls into the comedy/horror genre, it does not skimp on the horror and especially the gore. So if you are squeamish about blood, this is probably not the film for you. For example, one of the first kills involves a young teenage being reverse impaled on a bottle of wine. Indeed, that is almost tame compared to some of the others we get throughout the run time. We also get to see a film that knows how to milk the tension, leaving you on the edge of your seat as knives come into frame.
Freaky is also a film that knows how to set things up that will be important later, but organically rather than forcing it on the audience. For example, Millie shows that she has a secret handshake with her two friends Josh (Misha Osherovich) and Nyla (Celeste O’Connor). Which of course comes back up later in the film in the way that you would expect. Also as we go about Millie’s day at school, all you can see is the potential of where everything is going to go wrong later … and oh does it ever.
For a film all about a body swap, a horror body swap film to boot, it lives or dies on its cast. Well, this is another area where the film excels. It was great to see Kathryn Newton get to push it as both Millie and The Butcher. I had only seen her in the lead in Detective Pikachu before this so I wondered if she could do menacing, and wow, can she ever. Vince Vaughn also shifts well from the hollow murderer who clearly had a ‘destroy every door’ clause added in his contract, to being entirely earnest as Millie. The supporting cast is also here for the insanity that is at play, and on the whole, most of them actually have some semblance of self-preservation … well most of the cast. It was this dichotomy that made the film work as well as it did fitting into more of a The Hot Chick style film than Freaky Friday, even if you do have to just like overlook how a 50-year-old would know how to get the perfect smoky eye.
Where things didn’t work as well was twofold. The first was the MacGuffin that started it all off the ‘mystical’ Aztec sacrificial dagger La Dola. The Aztec dagger that had it its mystical enchantment engraved in Spanish … look it all felt even in the 1990s people would have been ‘eh that’s a bit on the nose’ let alone today. As well as this, and some mild [SPOILERS] for the end. This is a film that should have ended 10 minutes before it did to stop the energy from waning. There was a moment when you could hear the collective eye roll from the audience, and they were not wrong.
In the end, do we recommend Freaky? Yes, with a couple of caveats. This is the type of film that will either land with you or not. If you are a horror purist, I think some of the liberties it takes might frustrate you. If you are not a horror fan, all the gore will likely put you off. But if you are somewhere in the middle, I think this will work for you. If you liked Freaky, we would also recommend to you Happy Death Day.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Freaky
Directed by – Christopher Landon
Written by – Christopher Landon & Michael Kennedy
Music by – Bear McCreary
Cinematography by – Laurie Rose
Edited by – Ben Baudhuin
Production/Distribution Companies – Blumhouse Productions, Divide/Conquer & Universal Pictures
Starring – Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Katie Finneran, Celeste O’Connor, Alan Ruck, Misha Osherovich, Uriah Shelton & Dana Drori
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: na; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R