Freaky: The Slasher Film that 2020 Deserves

What if instead of switching bodies with Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday, Lindsay Lohan switched bodies with rampant serial killer Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th? A question that likely very few have asked, has been miraculously answered in the form of Christopher Landon’s new film, Freaky. Essentially a mashup of the two films (Others have said the film should have been titled “Freaky Friday the 13th”), teenage outcast Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) switches bodies with the infamous Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) after he maniacally attempts to take her life with a magical dagger. The absurd and irreverent mix of comedy and horror makes for a fun and engaging film that’s unfortunately unable to truly make use of its exciting premise. 

I give it ★★★☆☆.

The film can’t seem to decide if it wants to be self-aware or not. By writing characters straight from stereotypes, it seems like Freaky is trying to recreate some Scary Movie style comedy, but is thwarted by some oddly placed supposedly touching scenes. One in particular involves Millie as the Butcher having a heart to heart with her Mom (who doesn’t know it’s her). The scene could have been written for laughs, but instead attempts to elicit some sort of emotional reaction from the audience that doesn’t entirely land. It’s not that the actors aren’t capable of handling a more empathetic moment, but within Freaky it never feels like the right time. 

Quality of acting, however, is of no concern for Freaky. Newton and Vaughn give remarkable performances that serve as the true meat of the film. Vaughn makes fantastic use of his time as Millie, delivering most of the film’s funniest lines. While I’m not entirely sure he captured Newton’s essence in the film prior to becoming the Butcher, he does manage to successfully pull off playing a teenage girl, a difficult feat, and does so in an incredibly engaging way. Newton shines in both of her roles, but isn’t given enough screen time as the Butcher to fully immerse herself in the role. Millie’s two friends Nyla and Josh (Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich) are also well acted within their stereotypes, and both have hilarious stand out moments.

With the help of her two friends, Millie, in her new form, must fight to regain her body from the Butcher, who wants nothing more than to keep it. She has 24 hours to stab him with the dagger or else their switch becomes permanent. In constraining the film’s actions to merely one day, Freaky’s first problem arises. Part of the fun of Freaky Friday was seeing both characters struggle to adapt to the life of the person they now inhabit. With the 24 hour limit, the film misses out on some real comedic opportunities. Kathryn Newton’s take on the Butcher inside of Millie’s body is electric, but could’ve been out of this world if she was able to act like a serial killer attempting to pass as a teenage girl. Similarly, the fact that the actual Butcher is a wanted criminal prevents Millie from interacting with anyone besides her two friends; she’s simply evil without the comedy of pretending. 

Freaky works best when it’s comedic, and when it does get going, it gives some of the year’s funniest film moments: “I say my favorite movie is Eternal Sunshine, but actually it’s Pitch Perfect 2!” Sadly, this is slightly overshadowed by its attempts to be anything other than hilarious. Regardless, Freaky is anchored by wonderful performances that make it a thoroughly enjoyable ride. The film is solidly paced and consistently engrossing, with the performances only adding more to the fun.