We’re close to the end of another year of Month of Spooks by Markus at themarckoguy, and before I wrap things up as one of his little spookers, I’m revisiting my favourite horror film of the year.
From Happy Death Day director Christopher Landon who writes alongside Michael Kennedy; Freaky is about a young, unpopular high schooler who accidentally swaps bodies with the town’s notorious serial killer. With Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn in the lead roles, this horror comedy is a gory, hilarious delight, with a genius title to boot.
The body swap genre is a little tiresome, but as with the time loop trope he tackled in Happy Death Day Landon proves again that he really knows how to execute a concept in a way that elevates and subverts in a fun and self aware manner. Freaky’s concept rests on the thin border between fun and cringe, and somewhat remarkably avoids the cringe by going the extra step at almost every given opportunity and providing a deliciously mortifying experience.
The premise is kept simple to allow all the space to be filled by wild antics that embraces the silliness and leans fully into the scenario lavishly, whilst also taking full advantage of it’s R rating and delighting in it’s over the top gore that undoubtedly give us some of the best horror movie murders of recent years.
However, it’s characters don’t break out of their assigned roles at all and are kept fairly monotonous, and the ending feels a little dashed on the end to tie things up neatly in a way that follows traditional horror films; but everything else is all so much fun that these factors only slightly disappoint.
Kathryn Newton proves yet again that she’s taking no prisoners in her takeover of Hollywood as both Millie and the Butcher in Millie’s body. She’s sweet and complacent as the innocent teen and Pitch Perfect 2 fan; then deliciously menacing as the serial killer possessing her body. Newton is extraordinarily effective at delivering a vindictive persona wordlessly, and her few, carefully selected lines are written and delivered so brilliantly that she thrills in a way that’s as fun as she is unsettling. It’s a brilliant addition to her already stellar portfolio.
Vince Vaughn is adequate as the the so-called Butcher, and shines as Millie. He doesn’t stick to the stereotypes, and fleshes out his teenage girl with the natural anxieties, frustrations, nerves and maturity that ultimately make his performance believable. He has a real empathy for the character, and it’s his informed understanding of Millie that makes the whole film work.
Misha Osherovich and Celeste O’Connor as Millie’s best friends are great comedic sidekicks that each deliver their limited roles well matching Vaughn’s level admirably; and Dana Drori as Millie’s sister cop and Katie Finneran as their mom each have a deliberate yet compassionate take on their respective roles. It’s Uriah Shelton however, as love interest Booker, that gets the supporting role crown; going all out without sacrificing his grounded performance. All out.
The music, costumes, makeup and set designs are opulent with everything having the sense of a really clear purpose and design: from school mascot costumes to big party locations. The crew member who decorated the entrance to a horror themed mini golf course with “Tee you in Hell” deserves an Academy Award, frankly.
Freaky is a blast. It’s a boisterously fun adventure that aims to involve it’s audience at every moment, whether it’s making them laugh out loud or hide behind their fingers in embarrassment. It’s two lead performances are off the charts strong, and it’s it’s own self awareness evident in its execution that makes it land on solid ground.
I’m sure it’ll be a classic that’s returned to for years to come.
Freaky is available on DVD in the UK now