Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 42 minutes, Director – Christopher Landon
When she finds herself body-swapped with a local serial-killer (Vince Vaughn), high school student Millie (Kathryn Newton) must get back into her own body before time runs out and more people die.
If you thought that the kills in the later Friday The 13th films were mad wait until you see a number of the parody-tinged homages paid to the franchise in Freaky. While nothing in Freaky, or in fact cinema, may ever compare to Jason smashing someone’s head against a counter after freezing his victim’s face in liquid nitrogen there’s plenty of homages paid to the franchise, and indeed the spectacle of absurdly comedic kills in all late entries to horror franchises, within. All fitting in well with the horror-comedy label of which the latest from Happy Death Day director Christopher Landon (co-writing this feature with Michael Kennedy). And who’s the silent, towering, dead-pan figure slashing left, right and centre? None other than Vince Vaughn?
Vaughn may not be the first person to come to mind when you think of an actor to play a mass-murderer (although, let’s not forget his turn in Gus Van Sant’s low-regarded Psycho remake, and more recent dramatic roles in the likes of Hacksaw Ridge and Brawl In Cell Block 99). However, when a stolen knife casts a curse that causes him to be body-swapped with quiet, but struggling, student Millie (Kathryn Newton) his comedic chops are allowed to shine. It feels like it’s been a long, long time since we’ve seen a properly funny turn from Vaughn and Freaky absolutely allows him the space to give his best comedic performance in years. As he roams the corridors of the local high school with the thoughts of a teenage girl, with Millie’s friends Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich) there are plenty of laugh out loud funny moments.
Matched in glee by the bloody splatters caused by Kathryn Newton, as Millie’s body inhabited by The Butcher, brilliantly labelled “Murder Barbie”. The kills are strong and work well with the comedy, offering both working at the same time. Much like the occasional horror references, neither feel in-your-face or overpowering of the other style, simply creating an even more entertaining film. Newton delivers a wonderful performance as both Millie and The Butcher. It’s clear that both she, and the whole cast, are having a great time putting their efforts into the thrills and spills of this joyous slasher. Wielding, and battling against, knives, chainsaws, hooks, wine bottles and cars. All weapons in a battle to get Millie back into her real body before 24 hours is up and she’s trapped in a body with a face on every wanted poster in town forever, despite the curiosity she initially displays when it comes to using a new appendage to her – reminiscent of Jack Black in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.
While the film could do without the final five minutes, slightly feeling as if it just went past the point where it could have ended, Landon still displays his horror knowledge and makes an entertaining piece right up until the very end. His recent horror-comedy collaborations with Blumhouse are proving to be some of the most entertaining and inventive films of the genre in recent years. Using horror conventions to great effect in either situation and adding to the overall impact of the film, and this is plentiful within Freaky. It’s a film which doesn’t necessarily build up to one, but you could gladly watch a sequel to. For now though there’s a lot to like about Freaky from the fine and funny performances to the effective execution of the executions.
Blood soaked and hilarious Freaky is a welcome comedic return to form for Vince Vaughn and a glorious turn from Kathryn Newton. Helped by a great supporting cast and plenty of splatterings Christopher Landon’s latest successful blend is a wonderfully funny horror.