By Christian DiMartino
I don’t know if you guys are aware of this, but this pandemic really sucks. For a number of reasons, of course, but also because one cannot help but think back to a simpler time when going to the movies was very much a thing. I still go, because like Christopher Nolan, I like the experience, rather than just watching something on my TV. Yet the times are very different, and it’s difficult not to look back on such a much simpler time. In a simpler time, a movie like Freaky would be a giant hit. During this time, it would surprise me if anyone sees it, which is a real pity.
It’s a shame that Freaky probably won’t take off the way that it should, because something tells me that if this had been released a year ago, it would’ve been a smash. Here is a horror comedy in which nearly everything works, from the casting to the performances to the writing to the directing. Freaky is so much fun, and it is consistently fun for 90 of its 100 minutes. I say this because the movie should’ve ended earlier than it does, but everything leading up to it is such a violent delight that the additional ending hardly matters.
Kathryn Newton, of Blockers and Big Little Lies, is pretty strong here as Millie, a quiet and, for some reason, much bullied teenage girl. One must wonder how long Newton will be playing a teenager. One must also wonder how someone as pretty as her gets bullied. Nonetheless, at all times she has her two best friends, Nyla and Josh (Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich) by her side… except for one night, where she insists they leave her alone, despite the fact that a serial killer is roaming around town.
Said serial killer, who has tremendous strength, is played by Vince Vaughn, who picked up an ancient dagger during his first series of killings in the movie. He stabs Millie with said dagger, and both of them feel pain, but no severe damages. As the clock turns midnight on Friday the 13th, Millie and the killer switch bodies. So Millie, in the body of a hulking, well-renown serial killer, has to convince her friends and everyone around her that she is who she is, while also making sure that her actual body doesn’t kill everyone around her. On top of that, if she doesn’t stab her other self before midnight, both of them will be trapped in their subsequent bodies forever.
The fun of a body-switch movie lies in the casting. Watching one actor pretend to be another, and vice versa. It’s an old formula, but it’s usually done well, as it is here. Newton, particularly when she’s playing Vaughn, is great. Vaughn, when he is playing Newton, is a stroke of genius. Again, it kills me to think that people may not see this movie, because what Vince Vaughn does here is a stroke of genius. There was a good eight years or so where I’d lost faith in him, but for the past four years or so, with movies like Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Dragged Across Concrete, he’s been on a roll. This is his ticket back in, officially. He is wonderful here, in a role that let’s him let loose and have a ball. This is perhaps Vaughn’s strongest comedic work since Wedding Crashers; at every moment, he gives it his all.
The premise really gives it it all too. The film is directed and co-written by Christopher Landon, of the Happy Death Day films. Both of those movies were pretty fun. This is better though, in the way that it takes two different types of movies, throws them in a blender, and works them to their advantage. It’s an idea that somehow hasn’t been done before, and if anyone dare do it again, they won’t do it as well.
The film does have its share of gross out murders, but they’re at times so shocking that you laugh with them. Yet much of this film works because of its actors. Vaughn and Newton aside, everyone here is really good, considering they’re relatively unknown. In particular I shine a spotlight on Osherovich, who steals damn near every second as Josh, Millie’s gay friend. It’s a perfect performance that deserves to be a starmaking performance; a character that should, in every sense, be cliche, but works in every way.
While going to the movies right now isn’t exactly ideal, there is no hesitation in saying that Freaky would certainly serve as a fine antidote for a pretty abysmal year. While perhaps not a great film (it’s ending does feel a little… what do the kids say? Extra), it is one of the funniest and most entertaining movies you’ll come across this year.