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‘Freaky’ is old-fashioned, gory fun

‘Freaky’ is old-fashioned, gory fun

‘Freaky’ is old-fashioned, gory fun
November 20
12:00 2020

“He’s wearing my body and he’s killing it!”

Social outcast Millie Kessler’s (Kathryn Newton) had it rough — her family is falling apart, she is unpopular at school and she doesn’t know what she wants for her future. Things get worse one night when she is targeted by local slasher, the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), whose murder attempt switches their bodies. With 24 hours and the help of her friends Josh (Misha Osherovich) and Nyla (Celeste O’Connor), Millie must fight to get her body back as the Butcher takes advantage of it to renew his rampage.

From Blumhouse Productions,Freaky” is a slasher spin on the “Freaky Friday” concept from director/writer Christopher Landon. Coming off of the PG-13 “Happy Death Day” movies, Landon looks to infuse yet another comedic fantasy concept with a slasher flavor to it. In fact, “Freaky” can be seen as an R-rated successor to his “Happy Death Day” movies in more ways than one.

Regardless, Landon and Blumhouse have another hit on their hands, as “Freaky” is retro in the best way — a good cast elevates an OK script while providing some of the most fun horror movie deaths this year.

Speaking of that cast, everyone does a great job. Newton slays it, providing believable awkwardness and camaraderie as Millie and delivering an unexpectedly intimidating aura when she’s the Butcher. The one downside to having her play a nonverbal killer is that while she is believably lethal, she doesn’t get to do much more than grimace at the cast and camera. Still, she’s solid overall.

However, the big name is Vaughn, who also delivers laughs and scares. Keeping busy with off-the-radar stuff like “Brawl in Cell Block 99” and “Dragged Across Concrete,” Vaughn’s comedic ability is unquestionably intact and sharp as ever. Not only does he nail the pretty ridiculous concept of a shy teenage girl trapped in the body of a hulking serial killer, he puts his frame and rarely-seen grimace to good use as a stoic killer. Great stuff from him.

The supporting cast is also well-rounded, with both O’Connor and Osherovich selling their chemistry with Newton as Nyla and Josh. They also get some good banter between themselves and Osherovich gets good one-liners. Uriah Shelton also gets some good moments as boy-next-door Booker and Alan Ruck gets two good scenes as douchebag Mr. Bernardi.

Of course, any good slasher needs good kills to be a cut above the competition. The effects team for “Freaky” really go all out on practical, in-camera effects. Body parts get ripped off, a dude gets violently cut in half and so much more. For a comedy, the gore wouldn’t look out of place in a straight-faced slasher. The dedication from the effects team is probably the big highlight and it’s nice to see they didn’t hold back, even on a budget of just $6 million.

The direction from Landon is also quite good — the cinematography is mostly competent, the lighting is quite pretty and some surprising stellar compositions get tossed up. He also knows how to stage the most satisfying kills to sell their glorious nastiness.

The jokes do not all earn laughs, though. While the cast has pretty solid comedic chops, not everything lands. Sometimes the timing is just a little bit off or the joke just does not connect. There is also an unsettling rape joke near the beginning that sort of comes back in the end.

The characterization is also mostly flat. Millie gets a dead dad for a backstory along with an overbearing mother and that’s it. Nyla and Josh do not get much background, neither does Booker or anyone else for that matter. The Blissfield Butcher is also mostly just a stock slasher, really only elevated by the fact mainstream audiences are mostly unfamiliar with Vaughn playing a more menacing figure.

Also, the Butcher’s pre-body swap costume sucks. It is just a couple of dark clothes and a crappy pseudo hockey mask. “Freaky” was originally titled “Freaky Friday the 13” and it does wear its influences on its sleeve, but still, not the best. Another thing, how did a messy guy with poor hygiene nail his makeup in his new body? Maybe the Blissfield Butcher should’ve been the Blissfield Beautician. These are marketable skills after all.

With all that being said, “Freaky” is still a fun movie. With a mostly competent comedic core and kills that are a fun sendup to the slashers of olde, “Freaky” delivers laughs and gasps of, “Oh, they really did that!?”

Final rating: 3.5/5

Featured image: Courtesy Universal Pictures

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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