In Brief: Not a good movie for kids. Not a good movie for adults. Just plain not a good movie.
COVID is keeping studios from releasing bigger films — those they’ve spent millions making — so we’re stuck with middle-of-the road films like Freaky. On most Friday the 13ths Hollywood will release some kind of a horror film to appease those connecting the date with the genre.
Freaky is Hollywood’s most recent Friday the 13th treat.
In a twisted, copycat way, Freaky is an homage to Freaky Friday, the popular kid flick of yesteryear. It’s done chop and slash horror movie style.
The premise is ripped off but the screenplay is different. In both the 1976 and 2003 versions of the teen-oriented flick, mother and daughter fall victim to a curse that causes them to change personalities but not bodies. In other words, mom’s personality resides in the daughter’s and vice-versa.
Freaky turns the switch from mom and daughter to a teenage girl finding herself in the body a psychopath and one wearing a mask like Jason Voorhees. Or is it Michael Myers? While I am not sure about which franchise belongs to the two of them, I do know it’s not Freddie Krueger.
I guess I could look it up. I have seen their movies but didn’t care for, nor did I follow, the Friday the 13th flicks, the Halloween films or any of the movies in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
Looked it up. It’s Jason.
While he’s not playing Jason reincarnated, Vince Vaughn does the Jason role. His masked character is the Blissfield Butcher. Around Blissfield the Butcher is a legend and shows up for the first time in a long time on Wednesday the 11th. He murders four high school kids. On Thursday the 12th he attacks and stabs 17-year old Millie in the shoulder.
The same knife he uses to stab her also stabs him in the exact same position on his body.
She lives to tell the tale and gives a very good description of the Blissfield Butcher to police. The cops — in turn — plaster the town with posters of his image and give it to the local TV news. The night of the attack Millie has very vivid dreams of the man and how he is somehow connected to one of those South American tribes of antiquity.
The next morning Millie wakes up in the Butcher’s abode and in his body. He wakes up in her bedroom and her body. She — as he — has to figure out what’s going on and how to get herself back. Her problem is the police plastering. The Blissfield Butcher is a big guy and it’s hard for her to not be noticed.
On the other hand, the Butcher finds being a high school girl a positive. High school classes are full of fresh young people to kill.
Freaky is billed as a horror comedy thriller. For a comedy it’s kinda light on the humor. Chop and slash is usually tagged as horror. In my book whacking and hacking people to bits in creative ways doesn’t earn the horror tag. The only thing horrifying about chop-and-slash is that it manages to get made.
The movie also is totally lacking in the tension and thrills needed to be a thriller of any kind.
Vaughn obviously has a good time playing a 17-year old girl. In spots it’s fun to watch the 6’5” and 220 pound Vaughn dance around and behave like a teenager 30+ years his junior. He prances, pouts and panics while wiggling and sometimes wobbling through his scenes.
He’s also given a few good lines that will extract giggles from some of you and outright laughs for others. Freaky just doesn’t have enough of them.
Vaughn’s model for the role are Barbara Harris who did the adult-to-kid thing in the 1976 version of Freaky Friday and Jamie Lee Curtis who landed the job in the 2003 redo. Of the three, Harris managed to make me believe she really was a teenage girl in her mom’s body.
Curtis did it fairly well and so does Vaughn. Neither is in her league. Part of Vaughn’s problem is a script that just doesn’t give him enough to do. The focus is catching the chop-and-slasher. That doesn’t leave enough room for girl stuff.
If Vaughn struggles with the whole girl thing, his co-star and co-body person, Kathryn Newton gets it even worse. Co-writer and director Christopher Landon gives her very little to do other than glare at other actors. She plows through her scenes like she’s auditioning as a terminator in the next Terminator movie.
That’s too bad because Newton (TV’s Little Women mini-series, Ben is Back) is a decent young actress who deserves to have as much fun as her co-star. To get that means you need a better script.
Landon is a creative director and writer with — like his movie — lots of potential. He directed Happy Death Day and wrote and directed the sequel. Both movies totally cracked me up. They were genuinely original and quite funny.
Freaky has lots of potential but it just never delivers. The movie has laughs in spots and early on manages to generate a few of them. Some are expected, some are not, and even a few of them are freaky. What Landon isn’t able to do is give us is the kind of consistent humor found in the two Happy Death Day flicks.
His movie lacks the intelligence of the death day films. That’s disappointing because considering Vaughn’s exceptional talent, and that of the young cast he’s working with, Freaky should be a lot more fun.
Director: Christopher Landon
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Katie Finneran, Misha Osherovich, Uriah Shelton, Celeste O’Connor, Dana Drori, Kelly Lamor Wilson, Melissa Collazo, Alan Ruck
Rated R for language, mature themes, some blood and gore and violence. Maybe a rewrite or two could have made Freaky a lot more fun and a lot funnier. As it stands, Freaky is passably average. Give it a 2 1/2 on the Friday Flicks with Gary o to 5 scale.
This one can be found in theaters. Click here to see where you can see Freaky.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.