- Directed by Christopher Landon
- October 8, 2020 (Beyond Fest) / November 13, 2020 (United States) / July 2, 2021 (International)
When a serial killer accidentally switches bodies with a teenage girl, the chase is on by his intended victim to switch back to her body before the change becomes permanent.
Freaky is a fun horror comedy. It had a vibe like some of the cheesier 80s horror films and I love those. It felt to me like a lot of those movies at the time that tossed in random supernatural elements in order to change the game up from the formula they were using that essentially dated from the slasher films of the 70s.
Director Christopher Landon wrote the Rear Window for teenagers Disturbia as well as Paranormal Activity 2 to 3. He did great work directing Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U (though it was a weaker sequel). He has built up a skill set to helm a horror comedy well. He puts them all to good use here.
Vince Vaughn is surprisingly convincing as two separate characters. He starts out as an aging serial killer called the Blissfield Butcher who is treated as an urban legend by those in the area. When he accidentally switches bodies with an intended victim he does a good job of, well, acting like a teenage girl. He becomes a character and not a caricature and does a fine job of mimicking his costars performance.
Kathryn Newton plays teenager Millie Kessler who is the girl the Blissfield Butcher switches bodies with. Millie is still dealing with the death of her father, a mother (Katie Finnerman) that is descending into alcohol because of that death, and a police officer sister (Dana Drori) that has shut down a bit. Millie is bullied but has two loyal and supportive friends in Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich). That is a great deal of tragedy right there.
Newton does just as good of a job if not better than Vaughn when the switch happens. When the Blissfield Butcher jumps into her body it is a near complete change in the character. Aside from the superficial change of dress to signify to the audience that there is a new sheriff in town, the way Newton walks and acts on screen is different. She becomes more menacing and threatening as her demeanor changes.
Being a horror comedy, the humor tends to be darker or just plain goofier. One example is when Millie in the body of the Blissfield Butcher convinces her friends of her true identity by doing her high school mascot cheer. Millie also convinces her crush Booker (Uriah Shelton) of who she really is by reciting a poem she anonymously dropped in his locker. I also got a good laugh when one character refers to Millie in the Butcher body as “he” and another says “Pronouns!” It was just a silly moment.
Being a horror comedy or just a slasher film you need cool kills and there are plenty of cool kills in this movie. One person gets killed with a tennis racket to the head. A TENNIS RACKET TO THE HEAD! Another character is frozen to death and shatters. You get a pretty good idea of how the shop teacher (Alan Ruck) dies.
And being that it is a slasher film the Blissfield Butcher does not quite die at the presumed end. They never do unless the lead is the one that takes them out. The killer is seriously wounded and taken away in an ambulance only to escape. Millie gets her empowerment moment and takes him out once and for all. Unless there is a sequel in which case somehow he will come back but they do not imply that. Then again Landon did a sequel to Happy Death Day and is rumored to be thinking of a third so maybe and things were wrapped up the in the first film.
Freaky is not a sophisticated or complex movie. It is however a loving poke at the slasher horror genre. It takes some of the tropes and puts a humorous spin on them and is just an overall fun romp. It does not take itself too seriously. We have characters and not caricatures. More importantly the main character gets an actual arc.
Millie feels weak because of being bullied and her experience shows her she has strength to stand up. She has been nurturing a crush for Booker for years and finally is able to let him know. Turns out its mutual. More importantly though, while in the killer’s body, Millie comes to understand her mother’s pain. Her and her friends realize she/he needs to change their look until the switchback occurs, so they go shopping at the mom’s store. Millie/Blissfield Butcher finds themselves in a changing room talking to their mother through the door. She sees that her mother is lonely and hurting.
Freaky is a must watch for horror fans but for general film aficionados who may not appreciate horror films or slasher films or even 80s films this is probably something you can skip but you really need to fix your cinematic taste buds if you skip it.