“Basic switch. Killer new look.”
Director/Writer: Christopher Landon / Writer: Michael Kennedy / Cast: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, Uriah Shelton, Katie Finneran, Alan Ruck, Dana Drori, Melissa Collazo, Kelly Lamor Wilson, Magnus Diehl.
Body Count: 11
Laughter Lines: “You’re black, I’m gay – we’re so dead!”
Where Happy Death Day would cut away, Freaky is here to provide the slashes and slits we missed in this ‘from the director of…’ recipient of the crown, which is a hop, skip and a jump from a time loop dilemma to ye olde body swap dilemma. The title should tell you as much: it was shot as Freaky Friday the 13th before being cropped down.
And of course, it being ready to go in The Year That Time Wouldn’t Fucking Pass By Swiftly Enough 2020, a big opening was screwed up and it mostly landed on VoD platforms. Sad times. It’s a good thing then, that Freaky is all kinds of fun!
The legend of The Blissfield Butcher, who has struck around Homecoming “every year since 1977″, is dissected by two teen couples partying at rich girl Ginny’s house and they quickly fall victim to a hulking loon in a mask not a million miles from something right outta Jason’s wardrobe. Before he leaves, the Butcher takes an antique dagger that Ginny’s collector-father had on display.
We then meet high school sad sack Millie, who is watching life go by to support her alcoholic mom, who is still not over the death of Millie’s father a year earlier. Older sister Charlene – a local cop – is all rules and discipline. But fortunately Millie has best friends Nyla and Joshua to count on. She pines for the attention of off-the-shelf dream-jock Booker, is teased by nasty rich girl Ryler, and cruelly humiliated in front of the class by her shop teacher.
After mom passes out and forgets to pick Millie up after the big game, the Butcher shows up and stabs her with the enchanted dagger. The moon clouds over, the sky churns, and they both receive an identical stab wound simultaneously: Millie is now inside the 6ft5 Butcher’s body, her is in that of a 5ft5 teenage girl. Hi-jinks shall ensue.
While Millie tries to stay incognito as locals recognise him/her from the composites drawn up of the killer, ‘Millie’ returns to school, all lipstick and bad-ass leather jacket. The boys drool, Nyla and Joshua write it off as PTSD, and ‘she’ starts killing ASAP, starting with Ryler, who is shut into one of the school’s cryo chambers (!?), and topples over, shattering into a gazillion pieces, when Millie-as-the-Butcher finds the body. Then goes mean Mr Shop Teacher, although he nearly makes it, as ‘Millie’ discovers the body of teen girl has its pitfalls in the brute strength department.
Real Millie manages to corner Nyla and Joshua and convince them that she’s stuck inside the Butcher’s body. Some research and a convenient Spanish teacher help resolve that the spiritual knife – La Dola – will switch souls and after 24 hours the spell will become irreversible. They need to capture Fake Millie to transfer things back to equilibrium.
Naturally, things aren’t that simple: The dagger is in police custody and even after successfully subduing ‘Millie’, the band of heroes – now including Booker – hatch a plan to switch things back, but ‘Millie’ clearly has other ideas.
Vice Versa, Like Father Like Son, It’s a Boy-Girl Thing, and however many versions of Freaky Friday are floating around: Like all of the characters stuck in their mom/dad/enemy’s body, Millie learns about herself, her suffering family, and even enjoys the lil bit of power being a huge guy affords her (the scene with the bathroom bully is great). Vaughn is good as the girl trying to operate her newly acquired huge frame, never camping it up too much, while Newton slots into the cold-hearted psycho role with ease, but it’s O’Connor and Osherovich as Millie’s BFF’s who steal most of the scenes they’re in.
Likeable through and through and, like Landon’s earlier films, is tessellates nicely over more than one genre type, proving there are still a lot or quirky variations on the teen slasher available.
Blurb-of-interest: Vaughn played Norman Bates in the 1998 Psycho remake.