With his latest directorial effort Freaky, Christopher Landon is quickly establishing himself as one of the more fun horror filmmakers working in Hollywood today. The filmmaker takes the idea of body swapping from Freaky Friday and merges it with slasher horror tropes to create this refreshing take on the genre.
The film opens with four teens discussing the urban legend of the Blissfield Butcher, a notorious serial killer from their hometown. After some shenanigans the teens split off into different locations of the house they’re partying at. One by one the teens are picked off by none other than the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), who in the act of slaughtering the teens picks up a ritualistic knife that catches his eye.
The next day Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) starts off her day to a contentious breakfast involving her alcoholic mother Coral and sister Charlene, a police officer. She then heads to school where she encounters her bullies in cheerleader Ryler and woodshop teacher Mr. Bernardi, school crush Booker, and best friends Nyla and Josh.
The latter two do their best to convince Millie to come with them to the homecoming dance rather than attend a stage play with her mom. As much they love Millie for always thinking of others, they remind her that she also needs to start taking care of herself. This becomes more apparent when she later declines a ride home from them following the school’s football game later that night, only to be confronted by the Blissfield Butcher.
Millie is saved by the timely intervention of her sister Charlene, but not before being stabbed by the ritual knife that the Butcher had stolen a day earlier. The next morning both Millie and the Butcher awaken to find themselves in each other’s bodies and the race is on to reverse this change before it becomes permanent.
With any body swap film, the biggest selling point is to see just who the two people are that are switching places. In this case the idea of seeing a middle-aged Vince Vaughn take on the role of an adolescent girl is very much this film’s hook and reminiscent of Jack Black‘s performance in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Though more subdued and a little less flamboyant than Black’s performance, Vaughn still does a fantastic job of capturing the more timid personality of Kathryn Newton’s Millie.
His ability to play off his younger castmates winds up being one of the film’s more endearing qualities and helps highlight the fantastic supporting cast around him. As much as Vaughn steals the show playing a teenage girl, the rest of the cast is up to task and provides just as many laughs. The same goes for Newton, who does just as great a job transforming herself both in appearance and performance. Going from meek and withdrawn to confident and stoic to portray her Butcher persona, Newton is just as entertaining as her elder statesman of a co-star.
Where the film might lose some audience members is in how long of a set up it takes to get the film going. Despite the premise being sold rather easily in trailers, in practice Freaky takes quite a bit of time to get things set up for its hilarious antics. Nearly 30 minutes pass before the swap happens and for some, that may be a bit too slow.
Aside from that, Freaky is a bloody fun time to be had. From both this film and his two previous efforts in Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U, Christopher Landon has quite a love for the slasher genre. However, he isn’t just content with rehashing old tropes, as these films have proven he’s willing to experiment and add some layers of fun to keep things fresh and exciting. He knows what will entertain audiences and he continues to deliver in that regard. ~Paolo Maquiraya
Deleted scenes: “The Butcher Lends a Hand,” “Charlene Hears a Rumor” and “Late for the Party.”
Split Personalities: Millie vs. The Butcher: Go behind the scenes to see how Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton worked together to bring these two very different characters to life and how they created distinct personal traits for both. This piece will focus on the magnetism between Vaughn and Newton, and how that chemistry raised the stakes for two characters stuck in such a strange situation.
Crafting the Kills: This feature will take viewers into the “Wood Shop” set to see how all of the various elements and departments come together to create an extraordinary kill that fans will talk about for years to come. We will also discuss the inspiration behind this bilateral bisection, what makes it both fun and horrifying, and how it is different from anything else you have seen in other horror films.
Christopher Landon’s Brand of Horror: Blending horror and comedy is a difficult task that not many can achieve, but Christopher Landon has proven time and time again that he is uniquely skilled at it. FREAKY is no different. Learn how Christopher’s vision brought new energy to the concept and elevated the story, all while creating a fun and proficient working environment. This behind-the-scenes look at how he weaves humor and gore together will give fans an intimate understanding of why a Christopher Landon film is a genre of its own.
Final Girl Reframed: The concept of a “Final Girl” is nothing new in the horror genre. However, Millie isn’t your typical Final Girl. Get a closer look at all the ways FREAKY takes your genre expectations and smashes them.
Feature commentary by co-writer/director Christopher Landon.
Freaky releases today (February 9, 2021). If you have seen Freaky and would like to rate/review it, click here.
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