Director: Christopher Landon
Starring: Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn, Celeste O’Connor
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: Millie is a high school student forced to survive the cruel world of high school while comforting her damaged mother following the recent death of her father. To make matters worse, the town’s infamous serial killer, The Blissfield Butcher, has reemerged. After a faithful encounter with The Butcher, Millie is stabbed by a magic knife that swaps their conciousness into one another’s body. Millie has 24 hours to find her assailant and stab him to reverse the curse.
Blumhouse has become the darling studio within the horror community for its solid line-up of quality films and reboots of familiar franchises with a more grassroots approach. In my opinion, Spectrevision has the far more interesting catalogue of horror movies but these films are pretty niche and usually cater to fans of specific subgenres. Blumhouse has the more universal appeal and isn’t afraid to highlight projects with interesting concepts for inexperienced filmmakers, but this also has led to a plethora of piss poor films that supporters of the studio tend to sweep under the rug. Freaky is the studio’s latest offering from Happy Death Day director Christopher Landon, who trades out his Groundhog Day spin for a Freaky Friday twist on the horror genre.
I’ve still yet to watch the Happy Death Day films but from all accords they are well praised and highly entertaining so I have them on my watch list. Christopher Landon has seized an opportunity to highlight comedy concepts such as the time loop or body swap while injecting a horror perspective which is ingenuous considering we really haven’t seen it done before.
Where Freaky excels is the pure commitment and charisma of its two leads. Vaughan encapsulating a high school teen with all her eccentricities, anxieties and, quirks is just wonderful to behold; the actor has become well known for comedic roles, but he’s always been a stellar character actor willing to get out of his comfort zone and go for broke. Vice versa, Kathryn Newton is equally impressive in the dual role, bringing a sinister intent and repurposed focus to her new body and deviously integrating into high school society.
Despite the laughs, gore and a great cast, the film doesn’t really expand on its concept or flesh it out in any meaningful way. The film abandons its own logic for convenience and also becomes a little too implausible to further the plot. The high school setting relies heavily on clichés with the nasty popular girl, the mean teacher, and rapey jocks who effectively become cannon fodder for The Butcher to dispatch in various gory fashions. There’s even a hashtag joke thrown in that felt outdated by even my standards (worse than “What are those?” moment in Black Panther).
With no real ambition to reinvent the wheel, Freaky embraces its bizarre concept in a lighthearted tone chock full of laughs and grizzly deaths. There’s an abundance of nods to films it takes clear inspiration from and a lot of meta humour but the horror elements are pretty much non-existent which isn’t much of a crime considering the films a horror comedy. Freaky would have benefitted more from an October release but remains a fun throwaway film to cap off a pretty solid year for horror.