Freaky Fresh

Kathryn Newton in "Freaky"

By Paul Hall

Body switches have been the focus of many films throughout the years, and in the new film Freaky we get a look at the story of a high school girl who trades bodies with a male serial killer and the hilarity and horror that ensue. The question is, can a film walk the thin line between horror and comedy? The answer is itself a bit freaky and very fresh.

The Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) is on the loose and a community that loves its high school homecoming celebrations will not shut down to prevent the deaths of more kids.

Millie (Kathryn Newton) is a high school student who finds herself the butt of a number of jokes. Picked on by other students and even some of the teachers, Millie is trying to recover from the loss of her father a year earlier. Living with her mom and sister and serving as mascot for the Blissfield Beavers, she is stuck in a rut. That is, until she encounters the Butcher after the homecoming football game. But he is unsuccessful in killing her, and instead the two change places for a day of carnage and some laughs.

The catch is, if Millie and the Butcher don’t switch back by the stroke of midnight, Millie will live on in a middle-aged man’s body while the butcher will continue to attack, now appearing as a teenage girl.

I had high hopes for this effort, despite it being a general plot device that I know has been around for ages. And I was not let down. Freaky slashed its way into my life — killing it, quite literally — on the horror aspect and worked in a more than sufficient amount of humor to distract from the goriest scenes.

Director Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day) gives viewers a creative and fresh look at the body-switching genre. He is able to deliver scares and gore that never feel too mean, as Newton’s character Millie has been bullied so much you almost don’t worry when she is inhabited by the Butcher.

Films that fit in the body-swap narrative are only as good as the actors playing the parts, and in Vaughn and Newton Freaky hits a home run. Vaughn not only calls on his comedic background, but also his more serious roles to develop the serial killer persona. Newton is a revelation as she transitions seamlessly from teenage girl to true bad girl.

Along the way, we get treated to supporting performances that shine, including Misha Osherovich and Celeste O’Connor as Millie’s best friends. It’s a young cast who comes ready to perform and are a perfect fit for the film.

Be warned, this is a graphic film and the kills are a bit harsh. It clearly makes the most of its “R” rating and stays in context the entire time. I will see anything Landon does going forward, as everything he’s been involved with has been fresh. Now that he gets a bit freaky too, it’s only the better.

Paul’s Grade: B+

Rated R
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Katie Finneran, Alan Ruck
Director: Christopher Landon