Suddenly waking up in someone else’s body, and literally walking a mile in their shoes is a storyline that we’ve seen countless times on the big screen already. However, despite having a somewhat predictable concept, Freaky manages to give the tried and tested body-swap narrative a new slasher twist. Written and directed by Christopher Landon, who previously wrote and directed Happy Death Day 2U, the horror movie delivers on bloody murder scenes, and attempts to turn classic horror tropes on their head.
Let’s be honest, how often do you see a slasher try to subvert gender roles? Or have you ever seen a film with a petite teenage victim and Jason-esque mass murder switching places, and living each other’s lives? But, despite its unique plot angle, and a stunningly hilarious lead performance by Vince Vaughn, Freaky is a film that, while staying wacky, also stays safe, sticking to puns and cheap jump scares rather than exploring its ideas.
Millie (Kathryn Newton) is an anxious teenage girl who is being bullied at school. Life around her is relatively normal, that is until some of her classmates end up murdered. People start speculating that it may be the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), a killer who famously strikes around the school’s homecoming celebration. Well, it turns out the rumours were spot on.
Millie finds herself face to face with the killer, and thanks to an ancient supernatural dagger, also ends up trapped in his body. With the police hot on her tail, she and her close friends must find a way to get her body back before the Blissfield Butcher can strike again.
Both Vaughn and Newton expertly morph into each other’s characters and are able to grip the viewers in with their startling personality shifts. No one can deny that seeing a tall, imposing man worry about their crush and a small 5’5 young woman offing her schoolmates and bullies makes for some quality entertainment, and is all in all just downright funny.
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But Freaky’s clunky dialogue, and at times cliché teenage plot points tend to get in the way of its overarching humour and horror. There is almost a dated quality to the writing in Freaky, which feels reminiscent of the 2010s. A handful of jokes fail to land, and the film is unfortunately filled with bad takes on the high school experience, stale clichés, and old teenage stereotypes.
Vaughn shows his acting chops as he often brings the humour back on course. His take on a teenage girl is oddly one of the most relatable and believable aspects of the film, and he is a joy to watch. But when Vaughn isn’t on screen, the comedy tends to falter again, and there just isn’t enough bloody murder to justify the lapse.
Freaky’s overuse of jump scares and deafening sound mixing will also, frankly, annoy any horror veteran. At times it feels like the film had some underlying insecurity regarding its horror elements. It’s a pity since the blood and gore is graphic and inventive; however, the striking scenes are often diminished by the loud soundtrack.
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Despite all its faults, Freaky is a super fun film. Vince Vaugh will make you laugh, and there is some decent violence, especially the scene involving a chainsaw, which is pretty enjoyable to watch if you like gore. But, for seasoned horror fans, it will most likely be a one-off, something that you’ll be happy that you saw, but a film that you probably won’t add to your list of favourite slasher flicks anytime soon.
Freaky will be releasing in theatres across the UK on July 2, 2021