Much has been said about so-called “elevated horror” in recent years, but what is not being discussed so much is the new wave of inventive slasher films that pay homage to 80s classics and add new twists to old formulas. Enter “Freaky, “A new slasher comedy film from Christopher Landon That shakes the formula by infusing it with a body-swap comedy and lots of heart.
In terms of plot, “Freaky” is not that different from Landon’s earlier horror comedy “Happy death anniversaryWe also have a heroine who is searching for souls, has problems at home, and a masked killer who is chasing her. This time we follow Millie (Kathryn Newton), a shy high school that nobody has a crush on, that they certainly don’t know exists, a mean girl who bullies her all the time, and one of the worst on-screen teachers ever. She’s also trying to keep her family together after the devastating loss of her father to her cop sister Charlene (Dana Drori) focused entirely on her job and her mother Coral (Katie Finneran) find consolation at the bottom of some bottles of Chardonnay.
As if your typical teenage problems weren’t enough, Millie is also in the Blissfield Butcher’s body (Vince Vaughn) after being stabbed with an ancient Aztec weapon. Now there’s a ticking clock that gives Millie 24 hours to get her body back or hold on like Vince Vaughn.
Freaky Friday The 13th is a premise that almost writes itself. So it’s a bit unfortunate that Landon and co-wrote it Michael Kennedy Don’t dig much deeper than what the concept initially teases. Although the concept feels fresh in itself, the film is a constant homage to films like “Scream, “”Halloween,” and “Friday the 13thWithout actually reaching these heights. Even so, the concept is so well implemented that it’s easy to forgive the film for being predictable.
Overall, “Freaky” does everything you’d expect. Most of the film is devoted to exploring the gadgets of seeing a bulky Jason Voorhees guy now trapped in the petite body of a teenage girl, as well as Millie unable to control her new strength while she is Vaughn’s body occupied. It would be easy for the film to have a grade, but luckily its two main screenings avoid getting into the Campys area. Both actors add strength and physicality to their roles, balancing the ease of seeing a giant of a man with feminine mannerisms, with the darkness that comes with the fear of being in a body that is not yours. The movie goes a lot of miles watching Millie in the butcher’s body accidentally knocking people over for not knowing her strength, and Vaughn clearly has the time of his life playing a young girl mimicking Newton’s intonations, or even the surprising power of peeing while standing and the enormous physical strength, but also the horror of being kicked in the balls.
It’s easy to say that Newton isn’t as busy as Vaughn because her acting isn’t that overdone, and it’s worth noting that her character arc is a little too manly because of the male writers and directors. But that would neglect all the nuances and bloody joy of seeing Newton change her entire look and turn out to be a bloodthirsty butcher blank-eyed and taking revenge on the sexual molesters in her school. You’ll sit and think about which performance to enjoy more, and the nice thing about “Freaky” is that both performances have many standout moments. Vaughn can break loose and be funny, while Newton keeps the movie firmly anchored in its slasher horror base.
Speaking of horror: “Freaky” deserves every bit of its R-rating and makes every kill scene count. From shoving a wine bottle down a teenager’s throat and blasting it to sawing a man like wood, there’s no shortage of blood in the movie.
That’s not to say that “Freaky” is just a game and that it doesn’t work. As “Happy death day 2UUnderneath the bloodshed, there is a surprisingly sweet and emotional story. There’s a short scene where Millie (in Butcher’s body) gets a heart-to-heart moment with Millie’s mother (not knowing she’s talking to her daughter) and they both share her fears and grief. Landon and Kennedy value those little moments as much as they do the comedy or the gore, and there’s even a sweet romantic moment Millie (back in Butcher’s body) shares with her crush in what is one of Vince’s most beautiful scenes from Vaughn has done in years.
Freaky is very fond of classic slasher franchises, and eagle-eyed viewers may find plenty of references and Easter eggs. However, the film is best suited to paying homage to certain tropes while recognizing the blatant problems with them. First in the classic “Final Girl” -trope, but also in the teen sexuality, which is often part of teen slasher films, which Landon handles with a surprising amount of heart and sensitivity and at the same time uses it for comedic purposes.
“Freaky” may not revolutionize the slasher franchise as much as it did its inspirations, and the tired trope of the old, cursed Aztec weapon used in human sacrifice unfortunately makes an appearance here, but there’s no denying how fun this movie is . If you’re looking for a fun slasher movie that offers new twists and turns in ancient tropes, come to Freaky for the phenomenal performances of Vaughn and Newton and play the surprisingly sweet story of a girl who is empowered and her family healing from Sadness. [B]
“Freaky” hits theaters on November 13th … Friday the 13th.