Christopher Landon’s Freaky hilariously meshes the body swap concept with slasher films. How this hasn’t happened till now is mind-boggling, but these two well-known film angles have come together in the best way possible. Landon’s Happy Death Day was a surprise hit, and now he has made a triumphant return. Freaky is a love letter to the slasher genre that horror fans will love to watch once a year.
As mentioned above, Freaky takes the concept of Freaky Friday and crosses over into the slasher genre. Similar to Happy Death Day taking slashers and crossing over with Groundhog Day’s concept. Landon loves to pack messages in his films, and Freaky has enough gore and heart for everyone to love. Directed and co-written by Landon, Freaky stars Vince Vaughn, Uriah Shelton, Misha Osherovich, Celeste O’Connor, Alan Ruck, Katie Finneran, and Kathryn Newton. In the film, awkward teen Millie Kessler (Newton) swaps bodies with a notorious killer after he stabs her with an ancient dagger. If the two don’t swap back in twenty-four hours then they are stuck forever.
Landon co-wrote the script with Michael Kennedy, and they have cooked up a bloody good time. The characters are likable, the homages to iconic slasher films are great, and watching Millie find the confidence she seeks is a treat from start to finish. Millie is a senior at Blissfield High, and she isn’t having a good year. She is bullied, gets mistreated by her teacher, has a crush on a guy she believes doesn’t notice her, and isn’t having the best home life at the moment. Luckily, her friends Josh (Osherovich) and Nyla (O’Connor) are there for her during her highs and lows. Things take a turn for the worst when the Blissfield Butcher (Vaughn) stabs her one night after a football game with a bizarre dagger.
That is Freaky’s primary issue, this dagger is never explained, it only exists to ensure the body swap. It seemed like the Butcher wanted it for a reason, and perhaps it was just to swap bodies with someone or kill with a new toy. Millie spends the first bit of the film lacking confidence, but she finds it in the killer’s body. Millie was impressed by the strength she possessed, the intimidation she caused, but realized she could develop that in her skin and not in another man’s body. Besides having heart, Freaky unloads several jokes throughout its runtime that audiences will laugh endlessly at. There’s a particular joke involving a wiener dog that should leave a few people rolling. The family dynamic presented in Freaky is great as well. Millie’s household is going through a depression due to a recent tragedy and no one is sharing their feelings.
Millie’s mom is fearful of being alone to deal with her pain, so she doesn’t want Millie to go off to college, and Millie is happy to oblige. However, in the killer’s body, Millie cannot only gain confidence but she reveals her feelings to her mother and realizes moving forward with life is the best option for everyone. On a gorier note, this film pays homage to Scream, features some of the best kills in a horror film this year, and goes places Happy Death Day couldn’t due to its PG-13 rating. Vaughn and Newton are a pleasure to watch, as they navigate each other’s life. The Butcher spends his time as a teenage girl hunting down victims at Blissfield High, and the magic in this is how the killer is in Millie’s body demonstrating the swagger she desires to have. Vaughn is hilarious as this shy girl trapped in a killer’s body, and Newton eats up her scenes as a maniac parading around like a teenager at school.
The two do a tremendous job selling this body swap to the audience the second they wake up following Millie’s attack on the football field. Landon terrifically keeps you on the edge of your seat, builds tension in certain scenes, and demonstrates why he is the best at doing horror-comedies today. He makes you feel for the characters, creates fear, and illustrates a love for the slasher genre uniquely. Freaky has this beautifully crafted score by Bear McCreary that gets under your skin from the very beginning to set the mood. The cinematography by Laurie Rose is amazing, it assists in highlighting the great gore effects and helps enhance the overall narrative.
Freaky won’t be a sleeper hit like Happy Death Day, it will just be a hit because audiences know what to expect from Landon at this point. It shows endless appreciation for the slasher genre, includes some stellar performances, and it is very funny. Swapping bodies with a serial killer has no business being this fun, but Vaughn and Newton make it work and that’s all that matters.