PLOT: A shy teenaged girl named Millie (Kathryn Newton), and a hulking serial killer (Vince Vaughn) swap bodies through the use of a cursed dagger and only have twenty-four hours to break the spell, lest they be stuck in each other’s bodies forever.
REVIEW: I remember reading somewhere that the original title for writer-director Christopher Landon’s follow up to his HAPPY DEATH DAY films was set to be “FREAKY Friday the 13th” . Of course, the was before rights issues lead to its more mundane current title, FREAKY. That would have been a pretty bang-on title considering that’s exactly what this movie is – a mash-up of FRIDAY THE 13TH and FREAKY FRIDAY albeit done with style and swagger by Landon, who’s quickly emerging as one of the most reliable genre filmmakers out there. His movies are pure fun and escapism, and when have we ever needed that more?
At any rate, it’s the most compelling reason to go to a movie theatre since TENET way back in July, although of course many won’t be able to see it until it eventually hits VOD. In another time this would have likely been a breakout hit, with it featuring two terrific star turns from Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn, both of whom seem to be having the time of their lives playing dual roles. Newton starts the movie as a shy high-schooler, while Vaughn (with his hulking 6”5 height being used to its fullest) is a Jason-esque slasher, right down to his face-mask. When they switch, of course, Vaughn suddenly gets to unleash his comic chops as the sixteen-year-old girl in the body of a hulking middle-aged murderer, while Newton’s sports a sexy leather jacket and turns into a vixen that lures student after student to their violent demise.
Landon, while poking fun at the genre, also knows that he has to deliver the horror goods, with some of the kills so gruesome they almost push the limits of its hard-R rating, with a brilliant table saw kill the highlight of the film. Vaughn, who’s put comedy on the back-burner in recent years, is perfectly cast, as he’s one of the rare funnymen who, let’s face it, is super-imposing and scary-looking when he wants to be. Newton has exactly the right spunk for the part, and both her and Vaughn seem to be having the most fun when doing the body swap, with Millie now suddenly super strong in Vaughn’s body, while the killer has to contend with being a teenage girl that’s over a hundred pounds lighter and a foot shorter.
While they dominate the film, the supporting cast is memorable, with Landon both playing to and dismantling stereotypes with Misha Osherovich as Millie’s gay best friend, who’s terrified of being collateral damage in this real-life slasher flick he’s living out (a reasonable critique of the “bury your gays” trope) while Celeste O’Connor is her hyper-P.C friend-turned heroine. Uriah Shelton is likable as the jock Millie has a crush on – not the easiest part as most of the romantic scenes have him playing to Vaughn, who’s having a whale of a time playing a flustered teenage girl. Alan Ruck, of perhaps the great teen comedy of all time – FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF – also has a fun role as an a-hole shop teacher.
I’d wager that FREAKY probably leans more towards comedy than it does horror for most of the running time, but even still it’s a fun little genre exercise that’s being, appropriately, released on Friday the 13th (they fact that we’ve been allowed to run our reviews two weeks early shows how confident they are in it). It’s much gorier than Landon’s HAPPY DEATH DAY films and just as entertaining. Again – it’s a shame this isn’t being released in a world without COVID-19 as it could have been a sleeper hit, but even still if you need ninety minutes of escapism you can’t do better than this.