October has seemingly bled (pun intended) into November and our cinemas are still doling out this year’s crop of horrors and thrillers meant to delight and scare audiences. The latest to arrive is the deliciously bloody genre mashup, FREAKY, by co-writer and director Christopher Landon (HAPPY DEATH DAY and HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U).
The fictional town of Blissfield is known by its residents as the home of the Blissfield Butcher, a serial killer whose exploits make for great tales around the campfire. After an absence of a number of years, the Butcher (Vince Vaughn, HACKSAW RIDGE; THE BREAK-UP; WEDDING CRASHERS; DODGEBALL) suddenly returns, taking out four students from Blissfield Valley High in the most creatively gruesome ways. In the process, he finds an ancient dagger named La Dola. Millie (Kathryn Newton, BEN IS BACK; THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI; LADY BIRD; TV’s BIG LITTLE LIES) is a bullied teenager at that school and, after one of the school’s football games, she becomes the Butcher’s next victim. But it’s Friday, the 13th, a full moon night, and as the Butcher stabs Millie, something mysterious happens that causes the pair to switch bodies. The legend of the La Dola is such that if Millie doesn’t stab the Butcher back within 24 hours, she’ll be permanently stuck inside his body. With the help of her best friends, Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich, THE GOLDFINCH), Millie, looking like the Butcher, schemes to trap the Butcher, looking like Millie, before he/she can kill more people. It isn’t easy for the trio as no one believes them.
FREAKY is a melange of a few films – FREAKY FRIDAY, where two people switch bodies, FRIDAY THE 13TH, which involves a serial killer/slasher who wears a mask, and THE HOT CHICK, where a woman inhabits a man’s body and vice versa. In fact, the film’s original title was FREAKY FRIDAY THE 13TH but perhaps the producers were concerned about a possible lawsuit and the title got shortened.
For the most part, FREAKY is a fairly enjoyable romp thanks to Vaughn’s completely campy performance as a 17-year-old girl who is trapped inside a body of a 6’5″ middle-aged man. The actor, who has built his career on his macho persona, tosses all that out the window in a borderline creepy but ultimately humorous scene involving Millie’s crush, football jock Booker Strode (Uriah Shelton, TV’s GIRL MEETS WORLD). Newton, however, is less impressive the other way around, as her character is simply reduced to looking menacing. She does have one good moment, though, when she/he wreaks havoc on Millie’s bullying wood shop teacher, Mr. Fletcher (Alan Ruck, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF). But I have to ask: Why does every slasher film have a scene where a character goes down to the basement or walks around in a dimly lit house? I don’t know about you but when I’m alone at home at night, I have every light in the house on.
FREAKY is playing now in Hong Kong’s cinemas. It’s not as much fun as Landon’s previous genre mashups but it’s not bad.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, November 20th, 8:30 am HK time!
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