Having successfully cross-pollinated the horror film with Groundhog Day in 2017’s Happy Death Day, writer-director Christopher Landon hits the jackpot again with Freaky, a fiendishly funny mash-up of the slasher film and body swap comedy that refreshes both familiar formulas.
The notorious Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), a hulking psycho in a hybrid Leatherface/Jason mask, winds up switching bodies with bullied high school cheerleader and would-be victim Millie (Kathryn Newton) after both are stabbed with a mystical Aztec dagger.
Millie/Butcher must now convince her best friends she’s actually the sweet, Pitch Perfect 2-loving gal they’ve always known – despite resembling an ageing burly maniac with yellow teeth – while Butcher/Millie cunningly plays the damsel in distress. And the race is on to retrieve the dagger from the police and reverse the spell before the switch becomes permanent…
Essentially ‘Freaky Friday the 13th’, Landon and co-writer Michael Kennedy deftly juggle the well-worn tropes of each genre with razor sharp humour and the right tonal balance, capturing an authentic high school vibe (look out for Ferris Bueller‘s Alan Ruck as a mean woodwork teacher) and orchestrating some creative – and very gory – death scenes that will get the attention of horror fans.
Vaughn is an absolute blast, combining the menace he exuded in Brawl in Cell Block 99 with his wacky comedy persona, while empowering the insecure Millie with a new confidence. And Newton is equally good as the timid teen transformed into a gimlet-eyed psycho who inevitably turns the tables on her tormentors.
Every bit as inventive and entertaining as Happy Death Day, Freaky is bloody good fun and a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
In cinemas: November 12, 2020
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Alan Ruck
Directed by: Christopher Landon