we Freaky Review: Vince Vaughn Goes Teenage Girl in Body Switching Slasher Flick ~ Naija Poets

The switching bodies cinematic legacy is full of entries, and it just scored a worthy addition with the Vince Vaughn-starring Blumhouse thriller Freaky.

Freaky Friday has nothing on Freaky—after all, no one involved in that classic body switch flick was a serial killer. Sure, one half was a teenage girl, that much is similar. But that is where the similarities begin and end.

First off, Blissfield could not be a better moniker for the town that hosts our yarn. Right? A serial killer is about to march through this municipality, on Homecoming weekend no less, and everything the killer does is at the other end of a blissful spectrum.

As Freaky commences, Millie (Kathryn Newton) is a somewhat moody teenage girl who feels her “friendship” with her mother is the only thing keeping the family matriarch (Katie Finneran) from completely drinking herself to death.

Now, she just drinks herself to sleep every night. Millie’s older sister is the only one dealing with her father’s death constructively, although some professionals may argue that diving into her police work has made her a workaholic.

It’s been a year since the husband/father that held the family together died. Millie’s friends are supportive and patient. Josh (Misha Osherovich) and Nyla (Celeste O'Connor) even go to football games, something they’re not that keen to attend, to support Millie as she dons the giant Beaver head and mascot costume.

They do agree, though, that something should change with their BFF and her family.

Freaky begins as so many classic slasher films do, with a quartet of killings in the most spectacular of manners. Vaughn is the serial slayer behind the disturbing mask (credit Blumhouse with another spectacularly spooky mask, a la Happy Death Day and of course their return to Halloween).

This is the most bombastic of beginnings, a surefire sign that fans of the slasher genre are in for a treat. Freaky exhibits major self-awareness, something Blumhouse films usually possess in spades.

A sense of history is always important in any film milieu but is especially the case with the horror/thriller. Writer-director Christopher Landon (who co-wrote the script with Michael Kennedy) gives his audience major winks—from the town’s name, that epic opening scene and how that ties something to the entire film, a cursed dagger!

After that football game, Millie lets her pals go because she knows that her mum is just running late. Horror fans will immediately notice that this scene will serve as the classic killer’s introduction to our main protagonist.

Sure enough, as lightning crashes and thunder booms, there is Vaughn (behind his mask). Millie yells out that her sister is coming to pick her up and that “she is a cop and has a gun.”

Think that stops the entity that is now being called the Blissfield Butcher? Nope!

What it does do is find fate sending our Freaky story into originality overdrive. That cursed dagger is in the Butcher’s hand and as he wields it into Millie’s shoulder, something extraordinary occurs.

He spontaneously endures the same wound. Both subjects are shocked. Just then, Millie’s sister does show up and she does fire that gun—sending the Butcher running into the night.

When it hits both souls that they’ve switched bodies, it is the next morning. Millie looks into the mirror and is shocked at what is looking back at her. The Butcher is no longer a middle-aged man, and awaking at an abandoned warehouse is Vaughn’s body with Millie inhabiting his mind.

The teenager is simultaneously shocked, disgusted, and horrified. What she sees in the mirror is only the police artist’s sketch for this serial killer.

This situation presents the ripest of quandaries for both our subjects. The slasher can now go about their business across town without fear of being recognized. After all, nobody is seeking a female teenage blonde. The Blissfield Butcher is now free to kill at will, something Newton brilliantly embraces.

She is now literally portraying a different character. On the other side of the coin, Vaughn channels his inner teen girl to our collective utter delight.

In the hands of two supremely talented thespians, Freaky is an utter blast. That old adage about if the performers are having fun, so too does the audience could not be truer than with what is presented with Vaughn and Newton.

The dynamic duo has us smiling from ear-to-ear and, yes, we are talking about a serial killer on the loose movie that produces the most joyous of responses.

After all, the movies—more often than not—are seen as an escape from the ills of the world. In the cinematic era (say, the last 100 years or so), the art of moviemaking has been there to enlighten, sure, but mostly… it is to entertain. Freaky is blissfully entertaining.

Never once does Landon’s work feel forced. There is not a single frame that misses a beat or strays from the tonal thrills that the filmmaker established in those first movie moments.

With every curse, there is always a way out, and for Millie and the Butcher, the clock is ticking. Have to love a filmmaker whose awareness of genre moviemaking is so spot-on that he knows that nothing adds layers of tension and suspense like a time frame.

Something (no spoilers here!) has to occur by midnight or each soul will be stuck in that body for eternity. Can you imagine a teenager, stuck in a serial killer’s body, spending the rest of her years in prison for crimes you did not commit? That would drive even the most sane individual insane.

Vaughn delivers his best work in years. Acting is not a contest (even if they do pass out awards for the endeavor), but some may immediately compare the Wedding Crashers star’s aptitude at capturing female teens with what we saw from Jack Black earlier this year in Jumanji: The Next Level. Don’t go there… it’s apples and oranges.

They are also vastly different characters. Vaughn portrays a Millie who is swiftly finding her voice after being gripped by grief for the better part of a year. She also is consumed by making wrongs right.

Millie’s BFFs are drawn into Vaughn’s world as one would expect—imparting knowledge about their relationship that only she would know. Witnessing Vaughn alongside Osherovich and O'Connor also clues us into the stellar job casting directors Sarah Domeier Lindo and Terri Taylor did by who was tapped to play the friends’ roles.

Their chemistry must match with Vaughn as it did with Newton in the early parts of the first act. It does and then some... although it is hilarious when they first see Vaughn running towards them—strangely warmly—and we hear Osherovich utter, “We’re so dead, you’re black and I’m gay!”

Told you Freaky was incredibly self-aware.

In some ways, the Vaughn performance is hardly a shock. His talent has long been documented. Newton’s turn completely surprises. Yet, if you look at her recent roles, the seeds of that talent were there all along.

Newton was astounding as Leslie Mann’s daughter in Blockers and stood toe-to-toe with acting giants in Big Little Lies as Reese Witherspoon’s daughter, Abigail. Lastly, her scene-stealing turn as the iconic character Amy March in the television miniseries Little Women in 2017 set this entire ball in motion. 

There are a few supporting characters that deserve a salute, most notably Ferris Bueller star Alan Ruck as a woodshop teacher who probably should walk away from the profession.

Melissa Collazo’s Ryler could have mailed in the stereotypical popular girl who bullies Millie as it is a part audiences have seen repeatedly. Instead, the actress delivers an Instagram-adoring teenager who is aware enough to read the ebbs and flows of high school popularity.

When the Butcher takes over Millie, Ryler immediately sees the persona alteration. She smartly figures out that something is up, and she needs to be the one who knows what no one else knows.

Sure, Freaky is escapist entertainment, but it is much more than that on a visceral level. Horror films, in particular, can serve as a mirror to the society at large. Now, it doesn’t get too deep on the cerebral scale. But it does look at the entity of cliques and how the landscape that is high school can only define us if we let it.

The film also is a fine example of wish fulfillment incarnate. There are many souls who do not treat Millie so well—from fellow students to teachers and even members of the football team that she selflessly supports while donning that sweltering mascot costume.

As the Vaughn-possessed Millie 2.0, it is deeply satisfying watching the newly emboldened teen exorcise her demons.

Pun intended.

Freaky is in theaters now, will be coming to VOD in the coming weeks. 



source https://www.tvfanatic.com/2020/11/freaky-review-vince-vaughn-goes-teenage-girl-in-body-switching-s/

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