Freaky

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Kathryn Newton in Freaky.
Kathryn Newton in Freaky.
Photo: Universal Studios

OUR RATING

4/5 Stars

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

After swapping bodies with a deranged serial killer, a young girl in high school discovers she has less than 24 hours before the change becomes permanent.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

It's been a while since Hollywood has pumped out a body-switch movie, but this time it's a little bloodier. A sort of love letter to the classic horrors of the 70s and 80s, Freaky is a fresh take on the genre, transforming the killing teenager's trope into a hilarious and oddly satisfying massacre of gross proportions.

It's born from the same minds that created Happy Death Day – another horror twist on a famous movie plot device – and I am quite excited about this new style of comedy horror from the hit-churning Blumhouse Productions.

It starts like any classic horror – a seasoned serial killer sets out on a killing spree of mostly teenagers. One night he targets a shy, bullied Millie with a magical knife and the two switch bodies. Carnage and shenanigans ensue as Millie races to take back her body while trying to convince her friends and family who she really is.

One of the biggest difficulties would have been to cast just the right people for the two leads who have to play dual roles, while also having good comedic timing. Luckily, in Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn, they found the perfect cast. What makes it even more hilarious is juxtaposing Newton's petite build and Vaughn's lumbering physique as the two flawlessly capture how the teenage girl and killer would react to their changed bodies. It's campy, scary and somehow manages to avoid being too over the top. I kind of like that we never get the killer's back story, keeping the story pretty simple and focusing on the horror of it all.

And boy, is there a lot of horror. As a big fan of the genre, you sometimes become a bit numb to the gore or the filmmakers try to retain a younger audience rating through subtlety. But Freaky goes all out in a weirdly creative way – from sawing a man in half to driving a tennis racquet into a jock's head. The very first kill is so surreal and literally makes you gasp as it sets the tone for the bloody spectacles to follow. Most of the inspiration was taken from Friday the 13th, complete with creepy mask and their own version of its classic music score. Vaughn – who can be incredibly menacing when he wants to be – was just one giant killing machine, his urge remaining strong in the body of Millie, where Kathryn has made the death stare an art form.

However, it's not just a remake or a Frankenstein-esque abomination of two genres. It blends together into something different, where laughter and terror weirdly walk together hand in hand. It also doesn't feel like it's conning its audience with nostalgia – it celebrates what has come before while showing what the genre could be in the future.

Freaky ends up being a well-balanced, slightly guilty pleasure film and another jewel in the icy crown of Blumhouse, a company that has really helped turn horror into a box office juggernaut with critical acclaim to boot after a long shaky patch post-80s. It has kept its momentum going with Freaky, and I can't wait for whatever comedy-horror mashup they churn out next.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

Freaky is now showing in cinemas.

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