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Friday, October 30, 2020

[Review] ‘Freaky’ Is a Fun Slasher Comedy Love Letter to Teen Cinema!

Filmmaker Christopher Landon showcased his ability to merge the slasher with ’80s movie charm in Happy Death Day and its sequel Happy Death Day 2U. Both gave the slasher formula a shakeup with the addition of the time loop, sending its heroine on a journey of personal growth while evading a masked maniac. His latest, Freaky, is cut from the same cloth. This time he offers a more straightforward slasher, just with a body swap angle that pays its respects to teen classics.

Millie (Kathryn Newton) is a timid teen struggling with the usual high school woes. Namely, a high school crush on a boy she’s sure doesn’t notice her, the catty mean girl bullying, and a rotten teacher that hates her guts. Unlike most teens, Millie’s also trying to hold her family together after a loss the year before. Her teen woes get immensely more complicated when she crosses paths with the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), fresh off a murder spree and a newfound Aztec weapon. That weapon transforms his attempt to murder her into a body-swapping nightmare. Now in the Butcher’s body, Millie discovers she has only 24 hours to get her body back before the switch is permanent.

Landon, who co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Kennedy, initially sets up Freaky as an homage to the slasher subgenre and teen cinema. The requisite opening sequence doesn’t just set up the entire film; with the acquisition of the mystical dagger, it tips its hat to ScreamHalloweenFriday the 13th, and even Sorority Row. Once the central plot kicks in, so do the references to John Hughes’s movies and other beloved teen movies. Outside of the obvious Freaky Friday, of course. But when you start to worry that this will be a love letter in the form of endless references and Easter eggs, Landon and Kennedy quickly give the center stage over to what’s most important- the characters.

Millie may be the main protagonist, but she’s flanked by her two best friends Josh (Misha Osherovich) and Nyla (Celeste O’Connor), with just as much presence and personality as any Final Girl. Once the swap happens, they’re the first Millie seeks out for aid, leading to many hilarious hijinks. Vaughn and Newton have an absolute blast with the conceit, stretching their comedic chops playing each other. Vaughn playing a young teen girl, going ham on the feminine mannerisms, threatens to steal the show. However, Newton gives a fantastic psychotic edge as the Butcher trapped in a young woman’s body. Watching her give comeuppance to all the sexual harassers is wholly satisfying. That’s saying a lot, considering she has the much more challenging job of the pair trying to keep her cover. Vaughn can cut loose for humor’s sake, while Newton’s task requires restraint.

Though Landon and Kennedy aim for the jugular in feels, giving an affecting arc for Millie and her family piecing themselves back together after a significant blow, they go just as hard on the kills. Freaky ensure every death counts, delivering maximum gore or a creative demise. In short, it earns its R-rating. Despite the gleefully fun kills, the stakes remain low. It’s easy to tell who’ll be marked for death based on where the characters fall on a karma meter.

Outside of the body-swapping, Freaky plays like a straightforward slasher. It doesn’t deviate much from the formula, and the foreshadowing is so polished that you’ll know what’s coming before it happens. That’s okay; it doesn’t detract from the fun. Sometimes there’s comfort in the familiar, and Freaky is a big warm hug. It’s a slasher that takes its biggest swings when it comes to the jokes and the openness in its approach to sexuality, and all of it lands with great success. This slasher comedy boasts some very wry jokes and commentary.

Freaky doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of slashers, but it’s not trying to. Much like he did with the Happy Death Day films, Landon blends ’80s movies with the slasher to create a framework for a more poignant tale of a young woman learning to reinvent herself after losing a loved one. That same tonal blend means that perhaps it doesn’t quite pack as strong of a punch, but boy does it entertain. Vaughn and Newton are magic here, providing an infectiously fun viewing experience. It’ll make you laugh, a lot, and it’ll make you cheer. Freaky is a love letter to slashers and teen movies, but it’s also a comforting cinematic hug dripping in blood.

Freaky releases in theaters on Friday, November 13.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3639519/review-freaky-fun-slasher-comedy-love-letter-teen-cinema/

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