The twenty-fourth entry in the 31 Days of Slashers series is Christopher Landon’s Freaky (2020). Millie (Kathryn Newton) is a somewhat awkward high school student. She and her friends don’t really get into anything too adventurous or dangerous. Her only after school activity seems to be her role as the school mascot. Following the death of her father, her mother has become an alcoholic and her sister has retreated into her career as a police officer, leaving Millie to fend for herself. After a football game, her mom has fallen asleep and doesn’t arrive to pick Millie up. Sitting alone outside of the stadium in the dark, she encounters the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). He stabs her in the shoulder with a mystical knife that forces them to switch bodies, ala Freaky Friday. They wake up the next morning in the other’s body. Will Millie (in the Butcher’s body) be able to save her friends and family? Or will the Butcher (in Millie’s body) continue his murderous rampage through Blissfield?
Coming from Christopher Landon, the director of the Happy Death Day films (2017, 2019) and Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), you can expect the same excellent combination of horror and comedy. Landon and Michael Kennedy have constructed a film that pays tribute to decades of slasher films while paving new ground. The queer sensibility provided by Landon and Kennedy makes the film stand apart from its peers in a very progressive and fun way. There is an incredibly sweet moment shared between Millie (in the Butcher’s body) and Booker (Uriah Shelton), the boy that she has been crushing on, that transcends the gendered limitations of Vaughn’s physicality and proves that Booker genuinely cares for Millie regardless of her gendered body.
The performances of Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton as the film’s leads are the most captivating reason to watch the film. Vaughn truly impressed me with his performance as Millie (in the Butcher’s body). What could have easily just been overly used gendered stereotypes was a completely nuanced and clearly well-researched performance of a high school-aged young woman. His physical performance when he is portraying Millie is comical, but it is also so strongly mirroring of Newton’s original performance of Millie (in her own body). Newton, in turn, delivers a phenomenal performance as the Butcher (in Millie’s body), which showcases the character’s limitations with her smaller stature and lesser strength. Millie’s friends Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich) also turn in very engaging performances. But Vaughn and Newton are just on another level in this film, and their performances alone make Freaky a must watch.
Landon has really honed his craft over the several horror films that he has made, and Freaky proves to be very visually engaging with its use of fun settings and visual gags that are highlighted by the performances of Vaughn and Newton. As a huge fan of the Happy Death Day films (which I hope will still get its closing film in the trilogy!), I found even more to love in Freaky. Landon and Kennedy have really proven that they are truly passionate about the slasher sub-genre and that they clearly know their stuff when it comes to constructing death sequences that are somehow both comical and violently shocking. This film just felt tailor made for me, and I will definitely be sharing it with as many friends as I possibly can in the future. My parents both really enjoyed it, as well.
With its truly excellent performances, its fun take on the slasher sub-genre, and its great combination of horror and comedy, Freaky proves to be an incredibly well-constructed slasher that is absolutely a must-watch this Halloween season. There are too few films out there that are simply this fun to watch. So, when one does pop up, it needs to be appreciated for all that it has to offer. Definitely check this one out!
Freaky is currently streaming with membership on HBO Max and DirecTV. It can also be rented on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube. It is also available to check out at your local library!
I’ll be back tomorrow with another entry in the 31 Days of Slashers series!