“Freaky” is a spooky comedy retelling of the classic Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis comedy “Freaky Friday” and it will have you laughing all the way home.
The film, directed by Christopher Landon, stars Vince Vaughn as the serial killer, the Blissfield Butcher, opposite Kathryn Newton as Millie Kessler, an unpopular high school student who is constantly bullied. Kessler and the Butcher cross paths after an unfortunate meeting where after the homecoming football game, the Butcher attempts to murder her as the next victim in his recent killing spree. During this spree, he stole an ancient knife called La Dola that causes the Freaky Friday shenanigans to ensue. He stabs her in the shoulder, creating a magically inflicted wound on himself as well. Millie’s older sister Charlene shows up and scares the Butcher away. The next day, the pair wake up in each other’s bodies. At school, the Butcher begins killing people in Millie’s body after realizing that his new innocent appearance grants him relatively immunity from suspicion. Millie also faces difficulty navigating the world, considering she now looks like an infamous serial killer.
Landon’s particular style shines through in “Freaky.” Landon has put in a lot of work perfecting the horror-comedy genre. His previous credits include Disturbia, starring Shia LeBeouf, and both Happy Death Day movies, starring Jessica Rothe. Landon is no stranger to blending the old tropes of horror and science fiction with modern aesthetics and comedy. His directing voice is unique in the regard that he can seamlessly sequence an intense horror scene with a lighthearted or sometimes equally intense joke. His films often lean a little too heavy in the direction of the 80s in terms of character tropes but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
That being said, his melting pot approach to obvious horror and high school film references can be a little overwhelming part of the time. You shouldn’t expect to be wholly surprised by anything in this film. The beats are pretty straight forward. Millie’s bullies meet their demise one by one and that’s not really a spoiler so much as it is a warning. Just know that these horrible people get their comeuppance although many not by Millie’s hand.
The foil between Vaughn and Newton is played up very well in this movie. Vaughn doesn’t get a chance to play more semi-serious roles, especially not a serial killer, save for Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t really live this dream through. The comedy comes when the somewhat mild mannered, yet still aggressive Vaughn becomes trapped in the body of Newton. Ironically enough, the Butcher character only really comes through when portrayed through the eyes of a teenage girl. Her torments in the first 30 minutes or so of the film feel satisfying when you see her enemies meet their demise, despite them being savagely murdered.
The pacing works. The aesthetic works. It’s a campy horror film. What’s not to love? Camp in horror films is really difficult to do anymore but Landon certainly has more than enough experience to pull it off. “Freaky” receives an A-rating.