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Review: 'Freaky' is Fine, but No Classic

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jan 26, 2021
Review: 'Freaky' is Fine, but No Classic

Christopher Landon, the writer and director of one of the best (potential) franchises in recent years ("Happy Death Day" and "Happy Death Day 2 U") is back with yet another "blonde girl gets involved in something crazy" horror comedy. This one is called "Freaky."

This time, instead of a college student reliving her death over and over again, plain Jane Millie (Kathryn Newton) finds herself being stalked by a serial killer (Vince Vaughn), only to have him stab her with an ancient artifact that then mysteriously switches their bodies.

The next morning, Millie wakes up a little "doomier" and "murder-y" than is her usual demeanor, and The Blissfield Butcher wakes up wondering why he is old, has a penis, and is living in an abandoned warehouse. That's because she is he, and he is her.

Soon enough, Millie puts on a killer outfit and heads to school where she avoids her friends, loudly out Josh (Uriah Shelton) and quietly sweet Nyla (Celeste O'Connor). They, in turn, are confronted by The Butcher who, after an extended chase sequence with a number of tired jokes, convinces them that he is actually Millie in the body of a forty-something man.

Once he/she succeeds, it's a race against time to switch their bodies back before the curse that the artifact enacted on them is irreversible.

Hijinks ensue, of course, and there are some clever and funny moments throughout. Landon is famous for putting real heart and emotion in his last two films, which involved our lead girl and her mother. That is repeated here, just in a different dynamic. This is all well and good, except the incredible ingenuity of "Happy Death Day" just doesn't roll over into this high-concept idea.

Josh and Nyla pretty much team up with their best friend, now in the body of a man, but Josh's portrayal has him picking up the bitchy gay mantle, and while it's both a stereotype and a reality, nothing he says is all that clever, so he just becomes annoying. He's like that one friend who has a zinging sit-com one-liner for everything, but forgot to bring along a laugh track so we knew he'd be funny.

Millie is supposed to be drab at the start, but let's face it: In any American high school, Kathryn Newton is hot no matter what clothes you put her in.

Then there are logic issues, like: Why does the serial killer bother going to school? How does he know where all her classes are? And how is Millie strong enough to push a human body through a table saw to neatly split the body in two?

The pluses here are the cast, led by Newton who, sure, played a possessed teenager in "The Exorcist" TV series, so we know she can play evil well. But here, it's mixed with a genuinely kind and earnest teenager who then switches to a measured and wicked serial killer. And that's fun to watch.

Vaughn gets to flail around as a teenage girl, and I'm sure it must have been fun for him. It's not a perfect portrayal, and I'm sure a more physical comedian could have made this role even more of a hoot, but he gets the job done.

There are some interesting ideas here that play on gender stereotypes and female empowerment, as well as — surprisingly — the idea of sexuality being a construct. This occurs when a guy that likes Millie actually likes her even when she's in an older man's body. It's a bit of a "this is sort of wrong" moment due to the age difference, but the idea it presents is interesting, and might have made for a fascinating subplot if it wasn't reduced to the punchline of an otherwise sweet sequence.

All in all, "Freaky" gets the job done, but it's a bit of a letdown from the high that "Happy Death Day" and its clever sequel gave us. It's certainly an easily entertaining 90 minutes, and you won't' feel like you wasted your time. But don't freak out when it doesn't become a classic.


"Freaky" ON DIGITAL JANUARY 26, 2021 and
BLU-RAY AND DVD FEBRUARY 9, 2021.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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