From the opening act to the establishment of a cop sibling, Freaky is a spiritual cousin of Scream that delivers what it promises. A “small town” known as Blissfield has a killer problem when a sadistic jerk (Vince Vaughn) goes around killing teenagers left and right in overly brutal ways that are sure to get the bloodhounds howling. But his reign of terror takes a detour when he accidentally switches bodies with awkward blonde teen Millie (Kathryn Newton). It’s Freaky Friday with a horror skin that, while not really scary, is downright funny and a little bit touching.
While the Butcher goes around in Millie’s skin, thinking of new ways to slice and dice, Millie herself is adjusting to life as a tall man that lives in your typical slasher lair with creepy masks and tries to avoid the cops. The technicalities do nothing for me here. If the film was to have one big detractor, it would be the ease with which it disregards its setting. At an hour and a half, school doors are left unlocked, cameras and cops seem almost non-existent, and for a small town that should have no problem locking down one man, Vaughn simply ducks into stalls or runs into the trees, assisted by Millie’s loyal classmates Nyla and Josh (Melissa Collazo and Misha Osherovich respectively). As this is a plot involving two people trying to claim innocence, there were a few scenes that left me wondering how either could hope to get off scot-free.
But maybe I’m being picky. Such questions could prevent a movie from existing, I realize. A certain degree of liberty has to be taken for most slasher films to exist in the first place. It just feels like more liberties are taken with this film than we usually expect. But nevermind. The movie zips along and after a while, you just have to sit back and accept the technicalities. It either sits with you or it doesn’t, and that’s okay. The switched pair go through the obligatory moments of shock and realization about human anatomy and the Butcher un-intentionally gets rid of Millie’s bullies one by one with a few little quips and insults.
I say all this as if it isn’t a fun time. It most certainly is. The performers are committed and director Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day) delivers a serviceable amount of teenage angst and gruesomeness that an R-rated film allows. It’s refreshing when the kills are broken up by Vaughn doing dance moves and putting on a pouty face. Newton holds her own switching between the shy over-protected daughter and a proper psycho. A few moments came across as unintentionally funny, but when a film is this full of one-liners, it’s hard to tell. When a scared character is dressed in a beaver mascot outfit, I can't help but laugh.
What is fair to say is Landon has found a good little niche with horror heroines that gain confidence and wit when faced with a killer. I’m curious to see what he’ll do next, because this was a fun ride that pays homage to what came before while still sticking to its own path. Avoid spoilery trailers if you can and enjoy the post-Halloween fun!
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