FREAKY is the exact kind of movie that I needed to come out in a movie theater right now, pandemic and all. Not just me, but probably one that all horror fans also needed. And some comedy fans as well. Freaky is a scary, blood and guts bonanza of a good time with some big, big laughs that mixes horror and comedy quite masterfully. Some critics are calling writer/director Christopher Landon a future master of the horror genre, eventually joining the likes/ranks of Wes Craven, James Wan, David Cronenberg, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, etc., but I’m going to disagree with that…to a degree, and put him in a whole different category of his own: he’s the new master of flipping the horror genre on its head. That title was previously held by Wes Craven when he defied expectations and went meta ‘before its time’ with New Nightmare in 1994 and then it was accepted more just two years later in 1996’s Scream. Unfortunately for Wes, those are really the only two movies where he did that successfully, as each Scream sequel failed to light a candle to the wit of the original, and then he had some regular horror clunkers in between like My Soul To Take and co-writing the sequel remake of The Hills Have Eyes 2. Christopher Landon has flipped the horror genre on its head successfully multiple times now and he keeps getting better. He started all the way back in 2007 with the Shia LaBeouf starring, new take on the ‘Rear Window’ movie, Disturbia. He then involved himself with the Paranormal Activity movies, which flipped the horror found footage genre on its head, and right after that he flipped the zombie horror genre on its head with Scouts Guide to The Zombie Apocalypse. More recently, he flipped the Groundhog Day ‘do-over’ genre on its head, giving it a fresh horror spin with Happy Death Day, and then flipped it yet again with the more sci-fi than horror sequel, Happy Death Day 2U. Now here comes Freaky, which flips the horror genre on its head yet again by mixing it with the done to death ‘body swap’ comedy genre, to masterful results.
IMDB describes Freaky with the following, “After swapping bodies with a deranged serial killer, a young girl in high school discovers she has less than 24 hours before the change becomes permanent.” The only question I asked myself after seeing a trailer to this movie, and the question you probably also asked yourself was: how is it no one thought of this sooner? Seriously, I’m very surprised someone didn’t attempt this about a decade ago, but here we are now, and this film is near perfect. After having seen the movie, I can’t imagine anybody else in the deranged serial killer role that suddenly inhabits the soul of a teenage girl other than Vince Vaughn. I called his comeback a few months ago when he had his best comedic performance since Wedding Crashers, in Hulu’s original film The Binge, and now Freaky just solidifies my claims. Forget The Binge, THIS IS NOW HIS BEST PERFORMANCE OVERALL since that 2005 masterpiece with Owen Wilson. When Vince Vaughn isn’t phoning it in, and when you can tell he wants to be in a project and is having the time of his life, that’s when movie magic happens. In Freaky, he lights up the screen, and he does so even before he inhabits the teenage girl’s spirit. Why hasn’t anybody made Vince Vaughn some kind of horror icon until now? This movie puts his tall height and frame to good use, making him look like a horrifying presence with the strength and determination of Jason or Michael Myers. I wonder if Vince Vaughn was Landon’s one and only choice for the role. It wouldn’t surprise me. If I had one complaint about this movie, there is a scene where you’ll really have to suspend some belief when Vince Vaughn and a teenage boy are flirting in a car. It’s a little cring-ey and not that believable, but the scene was written primary for laughs and a big “ewwww”, which it definitely got out of me, so that suspension was quickly forgiven.
And the movie isn’t all Vince Vaughn. The movie has a great earned jump scare of an opening scene. The movie also has snappy dialogue, some great gory and unique kills with tons and tons of blood, great editing, great directing by Landon, great consistent laughs, great supporting characters and performances (especially the teenage girl’s gay guy friend and black girl friend, who flip their genre character tropes on their heads) and the movie even subverts expectations with not having the movie end how I expected it to. In fact, I would say this is one of the most satisfying horror movie endings I’ve seen in my lifetime. The movie also wouldn’t be what it is without the other half of the body swap duo, the teenage girl who is played by Kathryn Newton. When her body inhabits the soul of Vince Vaughn’s deranged serial killer, her acting gives us a master class in what to accomplish in a body swap movie of its type. Switching personalities within a film can be hard to do, but just like Nicholas Cage and John Travolta in Face/Off, Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton pull it off like it’s a walk in the park. I cannot wait to own this movie and watch it again and again, I was that thoroughly entertained and I bet you will be too. You don’t even have to be a fan of the horror genre to get something out of Freaky, as my wife, who HATES horror movies, liked this one quite a bit as well. Movies like Freaky were made for the theater, to share laughter or jump scare frights with strangers in a dark and quiet auditorium. It was nice to see that this movie had the most audience members in attendance since I saw Tenet for the first time back in September. Let’s get more stuff like this back into theaters, so that we can save the movie going experience, and not just be fat asses at home on our phones, not paying attention to the straight to PVOD drivel we have mostly gotten since April.