The cinemas are back! And horror movies that don’t take themselves too seriously are ideal for fans who don’t like to experience an hour and a half of psychological terror. Horror comedies are also getting better and better. Just think of Ready or Not , our very own Yummy and the Happy Death Day movies. From the director of the latter there is now Freaky, a fun and surprisingly profound and gory addition to the genre, a crowd pleaser with a star role for Vince Vaughn.
Gore and Jason Bourne
The village of Blissfield has been known for decades as the hunting ground of the Butcher (Vince Vaugh), a cold-blooded serial killer who caused tragedies in the 90s but has become more of a myth. Until he hunts down four teenagers in a mansion and kills them one by one. During his murder spree, he falls under the spell of a magical dagger, which he wants to test on his next victim.
That’s 17-year-old Millie (Kathryn Newton, Big Little Lies ). It hasn’t been easy for her lately. Her father passed away the year before and her mother has been seriously lost since then. She seeks solace in alcohol, which makes Millie feel responsible for her and thereby pushes her own life and childhood into the background. She is not popular at school because she is very quiet, shy and not very well off. Only her two best friends try to lure her out of her shell.
But after a football game at school, where Millie is the mascot, her mother forgets to pick her up and she is left alone. She is therefore an easy prey for the Butcher. But when he stabs her with the dagger, he gets the same wound. At midnight, even more goes wrong: Millie and the Butcher switch bodies… on Friday the 13th. So she’s now wanted for murder, while he has free work to do his job again – and that in a crowded high school.
Freaky is a tribute to various slasher classics such as Scream and of course Friday the 13th , but also to body swap gems such as Freaky Friday . In Millie’s body, the Butcher actually has almost nothing to fear. Her blonde hair and petite appearance are enough to look completely innocent, and her reputation as an unattractive nerd (lol, have you seen Kathryn Newton?) only reinforces that.
As a result, the Butcher can still kill a lot. And that throughout the film in an unexpectedly gory way. Director and writer Christopher Landon has something in store for the gore aficionado and Jason Bourne fans alike: the killings are imaginative and original, so often with nearby objects. Think a toilet bowl, a wood saw in woodworking class or a bottle of wine.
But it’s the other side of the body swap that adds another striking layer to Freaky . Kathryn Newton gives a strong evil look, but after the body change has the least noticeable role. Fortunately, she does not play Millie herself too shyly, but as someone who mainly wants to make it easy for others. The Butcher gives her confidence and determination that she normally hides. In this way, the victims that the Butcher chooses as Millie also get an extra meaning. Because it is mainly the bullies who continue to harass and address her, they now suddenly become easy prey.
Millie herself experiences just the opposite: as a large, Vince Vaughn-esque man, she can’t get away with anything and is therefore suspicious at the slightest. Freaky says that everyone has to deal with prejudices, but also that they are becoming more and more redundant. As a man, Millie has a conversation with her own mother, with whom she can share more than usual. She actually likes that lack of machismo and isn’t ridiculed in the scene either. That’s even more evident in the scenes between Millie and her crush Booker (Uriah Shelton). Despite that masculine body, she has little problem flirting with Millie. That’s quite an evolution from the early “gay panic” trope (men who became furious when another man approached them) that used to show up in these kinds of scenes.
This fluid handling and acceptance of different identities also comes across as genuine thanks to the acting. Vince Vaughn is delightful as Millie. He doesn’t play her overly feminine or over the top, but focuses on a few little things a young woman can have, such as a walk (very funny every time), a way of speaking or a certain attitude. But you also believe the sincere side of Millie and the murderous Butcher.
Vaughn was a comedy star in the early 2000s, but as the quality of the rom-coms deteriorated, we saw him less and less. In 2017, he went on the action tour with Brawl in Cell Block 39 , and that’s where Christopher Landon probably got the idea to cast Vaughn. I’m happy about it, because Freaky is one of his better works. A fun trip to the cinema—a film that’s really ideal for watching with people on a casual summer evening.