As cinema attendance in the UK continues to pick up following all of the COVID-19 closures, and an increasing number of new movies are being released, things are starting to move in the right direction. Normality is peaking over the horizon, delayed films are now seeing the light of day, and the UK release schedule is getting back on track.
However, before UK cinemas match up with our US counterparts, we still have a little bit of catching up to do first. Movies such as Monster Hunter, Nobody, and The Father have already shuffled their way out of the pandemic backlog and into an auditorium, but there are still a couple of delayed movies left to come.
One of these long-delayed films is Freaky; a body-swap horror-comedy from director and co-writer Christopher Landon. The film was released in the US back in November 2020, and is now (finally) reaching the UK.
Freaky hits cinema screens on Friday 2nd July, and tells the story of a 17-year-old girl, who swaps bodies with a middle-aged male serial killer. The movie stars Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, and Alan Ruck, and is best described as Freaky Friday meets Friday the 13th – a sort of ‘Freaky Friday the 13th’ if you will.
In the movie, Millie Kessler is a high school student. She has two best friends, who care about her greatly, but school life pretty much sucks, and she is routinely bullied by students, as well as by one of her teachers.
The bullying extends to after school activities, with Millie being teased by some of the football team at her school’s homecoming game. And if this wasn’t bad enough, Millie is having problems at home too, specifically her relationship with her alcoholic mother.
The problem with her mother is worsened when she passes out one night and forgets to pick up her daughter after the game. This leaves Millie stranded outside her school, with no battery on her phone, and seemingly alone.
But Millie soon discovers that she is not alone. The notorious serial killer known as the Blissfield Butcher is outside the school gates, and seeing Millie on her own, he moves in to claim his next victim.
A struggle ensues between the two, and the Blissfield Butcher pulls out a dagger. But when he stabs Millie, something strange happens – the clouds move, an ancient ritual is enacted, and both Millie and the killer unexpectedly switch bodies.
Over the course of the next morning, both Millie and the Blissfield Butcher come to terms with life in a different body. But soon Millie discovers that unless she can reverse the process by the end of the day, she will be stuck in the guise of a serial killer forever!
If you are familiar with the work of writer/director Christopher Landon (son of Michael Landon, no less), then you will know exactly what you are in for when it comes to Freaky. Landon has previously directed the likes of Happy Death Day (2017), and Happy Death Day 2U (2019), and has been involved with four Paranormal Activity movies: Paranormal Activity 2, 3, 4 and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2010 – 2014).
In terms of his horror/comedy credentials, Landon has written and directed some good movies. The Happy Death Day films are particular favourites of mine, and I am happy to say that Freaky is now a favourite too.
From the opening moments, through to the closing credits, Freaky is a stellar picture. It takes elements of Scream, Friday the 13th, Big, Vice Versa, and Freaky Friday, chucks them in a blender, and creates a perfect cinema smoothie, that looks great and goes down a treat.
Freaky is fun, it is humorous, it is playful, and it is packed with lashings of black comedy. The movie boasts various ‘kills’, including a very grisly scene involving a bench saw, and ticks all the right boxes for slasher fans.
The film is also pretty strong in the story department. While the focus of Freaky is firmly on the body-swap element, the narrative finds plenty of time for a couple of important subplots that deal with Millie’s homelife, including that shaky relationship with her mother.
But what really makes this movie stand out from the crowd is Vince Vaughn. The actor is cast as both the Blissfield Butcher, and the body-swapped Millie, and gosh darn it, he is so good in this movie!
Vaughn is no stranger to horror, having previously played the role of Norman Bates in 1998’s ill-conceived remake of Psycho. Back then, he was constrained by playing an iconic part that gave him no room to do his own thing; here he has no such restrictions, and it really shows – Vaughn has so much fun in this dual role, and his performance lights up the screen!
As the Butcher, he gets to play the part cold, menacing, and devoid of any emotion; while as Millie, he creates a contrast, by injecting warmth, charisma, and a sense of excitement into the character. Every moment Vaughn is on screen as Millie is a sheer delight, and he seems to genuinely relish the opportunity to crank everything up to 11, playing a teenage girl.
I enjoyed his performance so much, that towards the conclusion of the movie I began to feel a slight sense of dread that it would all come to an end. This is a body-swap tale after all, which means it is inevitable that a further switcheroo is going to take place during the climax, and that’s something I didn’t want to contemplate.
But I took comfort in the knowledge that whatever happened with Vaughn, I was still having a blast regardless. My funny bone was being tickled, my eyeballs were being thoroughly entertained, and my desire for a decent kill count was being satiated.
I well and truly loved Freaky. It grabbed me from the get-go, refused to release me from its grasp, and made sure I had a stonking good time in the process!
Freaky is a ’15’ certificate in the UK, and is the perfect horror movie for mid-to-late teens who are just getting into the genre. It is also great for anyone 15-and-above, who simply want a bit of mirth with their maniac.
The film has Friday night crowd-pleaser written all over it, and if you have even a passing interest in the genre, I highly recommend you take a look. This is enjoyable stuff, and a horror-comedy I know I will return to come Halloween – and I think you will too!
If you’re a horror fan, then you may wish to know that Freaky is currently available on Blu-ray in the US.
The Freaky Blu-ray includes the movie, as well as a collection of special features, including deleted scenes that were not incorporated in the final cut of the film.
The Freaky Blu-ray is available from all good entertainment stockists, including Amazon US.
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