Body-Swap Horror 'Freaky' Is a Ton of Fun

Directed by Christopher Landon

Starring Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn, Uriah Shelton, Misha Osherovich

BY Nicholas SokicPublished Dec 3, 2020

In a world where copyright laws were far more lax, this movie would be called Freaky Friday the 13th. Indeed, the opening functions as a speed run through the Jason Voorhees slasher, complete with the requisite gore, horny teens and even the same title font.

After our bloody introduction to Vince Vaughn's Blissfield Butcher, Freaky pivots into the life of Millie Kessler, play by Kathryn Newton, a local high school student and an unconvincing social outcast still dealing with the death of her dad from a year prior. In place of a tender coming-of-age story, Millie is instead stabbed by the Butcher with a mystical dagger, causing them to wake up in each other's bodies.

This leads to what is probably the most fun Vaughn has had in years, as Millie attempts to convince her friends that this 6'5" man is really her and to track down the now teenage Butcher before the switch becomes permanent. He could have easily made his performance a pantomime but instead imbues it with more than a few subtle touches — the biggest of which is Millie's discovery of her newfound strength and the empowerment that comes along with it. A more subversive movie would push this idea further, but that would interrupt the fast-paced fun. Still, the gender-twisted irony, along with a romantic subplot with Millie's crush (which is surprisingly well-handled, given the history of the genre) gives the film a heart beneath the slasher satire.

Newton has less to do post-body switch, but she does get the fun of creatively murdering all the pre-established jerks at Millie's high school. They're the kind of proud caricatures you don't feel bad to see bisected. If the trailer wasn't clear enough, Freaky is a comedy that embraces horror tropes and not the other way around. While it seems less aware of horror movie mechanics, it's definitely self-aware of the humour inherent to its premise.

Although the (second) climax tips over into ridiculousness, even for a movie as zany as this one, Freaky manages to accomplish what it set out to do — take a great idea and build an entertaining movie out of it. It's amusing, flighty and under two hours. What more did you expect?
(Blumhouse Productions)

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