Directed and co-written by Happy Death Day’s Christopher Landon, this Blumhouse-backed slasher-com kicks off in frantically gruesome fashion. But it quickly takes a hard left into the supernatural, as Vince Vaughn’s masked killer swaps bodies with unassuming high-schooler Millie (Kathryn Newton, a force), thanks to a full moon and a mystical knife.
Freaky’s supporting cast excels, but it’s the two leads who cut the deepest. Post-swap, Newton revels in the role of remorseless, single-minded serial killer, finding the link between horror and humour necessary for the film to work as well as it does. The Blissfield Butcher’s struggle to adapt his brute-force style to his newfound petite body provides genuine laughs. Newton’s unflinching, menacing glare also spawns surprising moments of empathy when it comes to certain characters’ (near-)deserved comeuppances.
Meanwhile, a 50-year-old Vaughn playing a shy teen trapped in the body of a serial killer should absolutely not work, but it does. The chemistry between him and Millie’s pals is delightful, even in its (intentionally) cringiest moments.
While the horror elements are more gory than scary, the action is expertly executed. Also well-judged are the plentiful callbacks to ’80s/’90s scare flicks and body-swap-coms. But for all the nostalgia, Landon’s managed to craft something that feels fresh, novel, and unexpected.
Freaky is out 13 November in North America with a TBA release date in the UK.
- The best horror movies of all time