Body Swap Horror Gets Freaky (2020) With Ample Laughs, Gore, and Suspense
Down on her luck, Millie (Kathryn Newton) is navigating a slew of personal problems when she is attacked by the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). After being stabbed by an ancient sacrificial knife, Millie is rescued by the police but after falling asleep later that night she awakens the following morning inside the body of her killer. It’s up to Millie and her friends to do whatever it takes to stop the serial killer from killing off all their friends before the change becomes permanent at midnight. A riff on
Director: Christopher Landon
Writer: Michael Kennedy, Christopher Landon
Runtime: 101 Minutes
Starring: Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn, Alan Ruck
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Down on her luck Millie (Kathryn Newton) is navigating a slew of personal problems when she is attacked by the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). After being stabbed by an ancient sacrificial knife, Millie is rescued by the police but after falling asleep later that night she awakens the following morning inside the body of her killer. It’s up to Millie and her friends to do whatever it takes to stop the serial killer from killing off all their friends before the change becomes permanent at midnight. A riff on Freaky Friday, this body swap horror is another entry in Christopher Landon’s growing list of charmingly sentimental and uproarious horror comedies.
Feel-good horror at its finest, Freaky is the exact kind of teen slasher that America needs after a particularly tumultuous year.
Freaky is a fun genre mashup of teen comedy and slasher flick. While the story is obviously zany, it’s best not to think too much about the mechanics of how or why everything is happening. It is not made to be analyzed that way, and it shouldn’t. Freaky is best viewed with a group of close friends and some good pizza and/or beer, which obviously isn’t happening any time in the foreseeable future. The jokes land well, the kills are gleefully bloody, and the emotional depth is touching. Of course, I am [barely] within the target demographic so that might account for why it hits so well for me.
The characters of Freaky ground the feature and are its best assets in making it a memorable and engaging film. Millie is a fantastic character and the truly fun part of Freaky is watching her character evolve both in and outside of her body. This comes from the strength of both Newton and Vaughn. During the swap, Newton handles the transition from shy and awkward to sinister way better than expected. Vaughn goes all in into the ridiculousness of his character and provides a lot of the comedy that keeps the film light. My only gripe is I wish that Evan (Mitchell Hoog) and Nyla (Celest O’Connor) had more to work with regarding their characters. They deserve more than to be the fun best friends with great one-liners that serve as emotional support, which often befalls Black and gay characters.
Freaky is done well for a slasher of its stripes. Its world is full of bright colors, elaborate sets, and great lighting. To me, its setpieces are its greatest triumph. The opening mansion, the first stab, and the Grimm Gold Course are among my favorites for being so memorable and exciting. The filmmakers really play with the viewer too. The camera work is absolutely tantalizing, especially in the opening. The delaying of expectations really increases the satisfaction evoked from the setup. The score is typical for the type of film Freaky is and can be overpowering at times but is definitely still indicative of the film it is hoping to be.
From a technical standpoint, Freaky hits all the marks it needs to hit. The effects are pretty central to this movie. Opting to go a more cartoon-ish avenue, Freaky’s kill scenes are over the top in the best ways possible. While never resorting to bland or obviously fake effects, Freaky makes its slaughtering look realistic enough to avoid eye rolls but theatrical enough to show everyone a good time. Aside from this, Freaky doesn’t really stand out in any particular way which is totally fine for a teen comedy slasher.
Christopher Landon strikes gold again! I cannot emphasize how much fun Freaky is to watch. The entire film I was laughing, gripping my seat in anticipation, and feeling every bit of my heartstrings pulled on at the appropriate times. Landon nails it. Heartfelt, fun, suspenseful, hilarious Freaky has all the makings of an iconic teen slasher film that will hopefully be rewarded on video on demand since its theatrical run was tainted by Covid-19. Since it is confirmed that Freaky and Happy Death Day live in the same universe, I am hopeful that Landon’s next entry will be just as colorful and sweet as these gems of films.
While Freaky doesn’t muse on anything too deep it does discuss identity that mirrors similar teen comedies. Millie struggles with doing things for herself and not for the benefit of others. She is afraid of disappointing her mother in particular which is why she is scared to go too far for college and that she is initially prepared to miss Homecoming for a community theater production of 'Wicked'. This all changes when she switches places with her would-be serial killer and now Millie has to fight for control of her body and manifest the decisions she truly wants in life: going to her college of choice, making the moves on her crush, and all the other familiar tropes one might find in a teen movie.
Freaky won’t win any awards this season but it is a well-made film that is an absolute blast to watch. A comfort horror movie to its core, Freaky is sure to scare you in one scene and tug at your heartstrings in the next. Its zany premise, rock-solid cast, and a large swath of comic relief make it the perfect film to cozy up with while the weather gets colder. I implore you to check this one out now that it has hit premium on demand. I promise you won’t want to swap it out for anything else coming out right now.
Overall Score? 8/10