Freaky

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/9/21;
Universal;
Horror;
Box Office $8.99 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, and language throughout.
Stars Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Katie Finneran, Dana Drori, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, Uriah Shelton, Alan Ruck.

There’s a lot of fun to be had in Freaky, which combines the scares of a slasher film and the wackiness of a body-swap comedy to great effect.

The film goes to town on all sorts of tropes from horror films to high school and teen coming-of-age movies. Freaky the kind of movie that could easily end up being a cult hit.

It begins as any typical slasher movie would, with a psychotic killer nicknamed the Butcher (Vince Vaughn) stalking sex-crazy teenagers having a party. During the mayhem, he discovers the antiquities collection of one of the kids’ parents, and an ancient magical dagger calls out to him.

His next target turns out to be Millie (Kathryn Newton), a typical American put-upon teenager dealing with all sorts of angst, not the least of which is her father’s sudden death a year earlier and her mother turning to alcoholism to cope. So when her mother doesn’t show up to give her a ride home after the Homecoming game, the Butcher strikes, and manages to stab her in the shoulder with the magical dagger before Millie’s cop sister shows up to scare him off.

The next morning, Millie and the Butcher wake up in each other’s bodies. Since Millie was able to describe the Butcher to police, everyone now knows what he looks like, so she can’t just go walking around in his body trying to figure out what happened. But having the body of a teenage girl gives new life to the Butcher, who now has a free pass to fresh meat at high school, and ends up running afoul of all the same people who have been giving Millie problems.

Eventually, Millie is able to reconnect with her friends and convince them of what happened, and they learn about the dagger’s body-swap abilities, and that they have until the end of the day to reverse the process with another stab before the switch becomes permanent.

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The blend of supernatural hijinks with typical high school problems gives the movie some serious “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” vibes, particularly the way it serves as a revenge fantasy for dealing with all the troubles that pop up during high school, from bullies to mean teachers. The film finds a nice balance between tongue-in-cheek humor and some nasty gore.

Newton does a good job switching from meek teenager to killer on a dime, but the key to the film’s success is Vaughn, who has to take on the persona of a teenage girl. That’s why you cast someone like Vaughn for this role, since he’s no stranger to playing creepy, but has the comedic chops to pull off a convincing Millie.

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The Blu-ray includes a number of good bonus features, starting with the feature-length commentary by director Christopher Landon, who covers all the challenges of filming at an active high school during the winter in Atlanta with a shoestring budget.

Other extras include three deleted scenes running about five minutes in total, including a funny bit with a rideshare driver.

The two-and-a-half-minute “Split Personalities: Millie vs. The Butcher” featurette deals with Vaughn and Newton crafting their characters, while the three-and-a-half-minute “Crafting the Kills” dissects the variety of gruesome murders depicted in the film.

“Christopher Landon’s Brand of Horror” is a two-and-a-half-minute featurette about the director’s penchant for horror-comedy. Finally, the three-minute “Final Girl Reframed” examines how the film flips some common horror tropes about gender stereotypes.

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