The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - FREAKY | The Movie Waffler

New to Netflix - FREAKY

Freaky review
A timid high school girl swaps bodies with a hulking killer.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Christopher Landon

Starring: Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, Uriah Shelton, Dana Drori, Katie Finneran, Alan Ruck

freaky poster

Director Christopher Landon's horror-comedy Happy Death Day offered a clever, refreshing spin on the Groundhog Day format of a protagonist being forced to relive the same day over and over until they can find a way to break the cycle. That movie's protagonist was a bitchy sorority sister who kept getting murdered by a masked killer, waking up at the beginning of the very same day when her lifeforce has been drained. To break that cycle, Happy Death Day's anti-heroine had to transform herself from the person most likely to die in a slasher movie, the vacuous airhead, to the person most likely to survive – the 'Final Girl', the likeable heroine who bravely puts others before her.

With his latest, Freaky, Landon delivers a horror spin on another classic comedy trope. Remember all those '80s body swap comedies, where young people would swap bodies with pensioners or boys with girls? Well in Freaky it's a classic Final Girl type, a shy high schooler, who swaps bodies with a hulking masked killer. Surely the original title must have been 'Freaky Friday the 13th'?

freaky review

Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) is the embodiment of the classic Final Girl, a shy, bookish teen who wears dowdy clothes and can't pluck up the courage to ask out the boy she likes. The Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) is the classic slasher antagonist, a lumbering psychopath who kills everything in his path. When they meet, it's murder.

Well, attempted murder. Cornering Millie late at night while she waits for a lift from her wine-guzzling mother, the Butcher attempts to stab her with an ancient Mayan dagger he stole from a local toff's collection. Along with cutting his intended victim, the Butcher stabs himself, and when Millie and the Butcher's blood mingle, their souls transfer between their bodies. The Butcher is now trapped inside the body of a teenage girl, while Millie finds herself encased in the killer's giant frame.

freaky review

Hijinks ensue as the Butcher embraces his new body, continuing his killing spree under the guise of innocent Millie, while Millie and her friends attempt to track down the Butcher to reverse the curse.

Much of the fun of Freaky comes from seeing Millie's various detractors (she seems to be bullied by everyone from classmates to teachers) die grisly deaths at the hands of the Butcher. While in Millie's body, the Butcher only has the strength of her young frame, which forces him to find novel ways to off his victims. Newton plays the Butcher-inhabited Millie in the manner of Schwarzenegger's Terminator, a focussed killing machine that always seem to be looking for its next victim.

The comic highlights come from Vaughn as the Millie-inhabited Butcher. Vaughn may recreate the movements and mannerisms of a teenage girl in broad fashion, but it's undeniably amusing, arguably the actor's finest comic performance since Swingers.

freaky review

As with Happy Death Day, a subplot concerning a deceased parent (in this case Millie's father) adds an element of pathos without ever detracting from the film's breeziness. There's a genuinely affecting moment where Millie has a conversation with her mother while in the body of the Butcher. Unaware that she's speaking to her daughter, Mom opens up about her struggles and Millie gets to fully realise exactly what her mother has been going through. Isn't it always easier to tell your troubles to a stranger than to your loved ones? Landon is the son of Little House on the Prairie star Michael Landon, America's Dad, who died while Christopher was 15 – make of that what you will.

Like Happy Death Day, Freaky makes for perfect Friday night at the multiplex fare, the sort of movie that keeps you entertained for a brisk 90 minutes but is so easy to enjoy you'll likely find yourself returning to it at home every couple of years. The horror-comedy sub-genre has given us some of the dumbest, most cynical movies imaginable, but Landon appears to have nailed what makes these two flavours go together – an appreciation and respect for both forms.

 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.