We’ve all seen at least one body swap movie before. The film industry’s obsession with this odd subgenre has led to a new body swap film consistently popping into theaters and hitting the same notes as the last. With that said, Christopher Landon’s new horror/comedy film, Freaky, does a great job holding its own in a sea full of countless other body-switching flicks.
Freaky stars Vince Vaughn and 21-year-old actress Kathryn Newton, who’s most well-known for her role in Netflix’s The Society. It’s inspired by the 2002 comedy The Hot Chick, starring Rob Schneider and Rachel McAdams, where a man and a teen girl accidentally switch bodies and have a short time period to switch back before being stuck in the other’s body forever.
17-year-old Millie Kessler, played by Newton, is a senior in high school. She spends her days getting bullied by popular girls and ignored by boys. She lives with her mother and older sister, Charlene, who is a police officer. Millie is dealing with the aftermath of her father’s death at the beginning of the film, which’s caused a strain on her family relationship. Her mother has become addicted to alcohol and her sister has thrown herself further into her work to distract herself from grieving properly.
Millie’s only other companions are her two best friends, Nyla and Josh, played by newcomer actors Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich. Josh proves to be the biggest scene-stealer of the film as his outgoing and quick-witted personality perfectly balances out Millie’s shyer and socially awkward mannerisms.
The film adds a great twist by making Vaughn’s character, who’s only referred to as the Blissfield Butcher, a murderer instead of a thief like Schneider’s character in The Hot Chick.
The plot begins when Millie’s mom forgets to pick her up after a football game, leaving her stranded alone at night. The Blissfield Butcher attacks and stabs her with an ancient cursed knife that causes their bodies to switch.
The Butcher, now in Millie’s body, continues to wreak havoc and enjoys being switched due to how his now innocent appearance grants him immunity amongst police and pedestrians.
Millie, now in the Butcher’s body, has a hard time adjusting to the switch and spends most of the film worrying about staying switched forever if she doesn’t manage to swap bodies back in 24 hours.
Although I find the common comedic movie troupe of grown men impersonating teenage girls or women to be outdated, Vaughn’s performance as Millie provides many laughs throughout the film. He manages to get the exact mannerisms of what would be most realistic if a teen girl randomly woke up in a middle-aged man’s body. His performance rang very similar to Jack Black’s in the 2017 Jumanji remake, so I would highly recommend this film for anyone who loved that one as well.
Newton also manages to flawlessly go from playing a timid, yet caring, teenager to a terrifying serial killer. I personally found that she did a better job mimicking Vaughn’s acting as the Blissfield Butcher than he did acting as Millie.
Although I’d say that Newton was the breakout star of the film, no actor among the main cast did a bad job by any means and every character served a good purpose.
A flaw with the film is its predictable paint-by-numbers plot. There were a couple of times throughout where I immediately guessed what the next line was and what was going to happen next in a scene. I also didn’t find it very scary even though it’s extremely gory and has jump scares. The film mostly leans towards the comedic side more than horror, so true horror fans may be disappointed in that element if that’s their motive to watch it. Still, Landon does a fantastic job blending the genres of horror and comedy to give audiences a well-worth watch that is one of the best releases of 2020.
Overall, Freaky is a solid film that provides many laughs, scares and entertainment the whole way through. The film has great diversity in its cast and gives positive representation to the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, it serves a powerful theme of female empowerment mostly with Millie’s character and the confidence she develops throughout the film.
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