Body-Swap Horror ‘Freaky’ Balances Gore and Comedy in One of the Best Slashers in Recent Memory

A still from 'Freaky'. Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) is shown mid-shot, centre frame, holing a bloody hook. She stands against a graffitied backdrop with a hole ripped out, of which she stands in front of. Millie is a teenage girl, white, with blond hair in a ponytail and minimal makeup. She wears a blood red leather jacket and black vest top underneath. She looks directly down the camera.
Universal Pictures

Slasher movies are a dime a dozen. That’s not a bad thing, but when one comes along that’s as exceptional as Freaky it’s a cause for celebration. Directed by Christopher Landon and written by himself and Michael Kennedy, Freaky is a rip roaring celebration of the entire slasher genre.

When Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) becomes the latest victim of the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) their bodies are inherently swapped as the result of a mystical dagger. What follows is a gory, vulgar, hilarious, clever, and heartfelt good time that turns slasher genre tropes on their head in the best way possible.

Newton and Vaughn give the performances of their careers. Newton, perhaps best known for her performance on Big Little Lies, is able to fully flex her acting chops going from timid yet loveable Millie, to straight up ruthless as the Blissfield Butcher. It’s a lot of fun seeing a teenage girl cause a great deal of the film’s carnage. Vaughn on the other hand proves once again that he’s a master of comedic timing, delivering some of the film’s funniest moments with exceptional ease. The best part is that the humour never once undercuts the carnage or gore that takes place oscreen but instead amplifies it. It forces its audience in on the joke rather than make fun of it, proving a loving ode to the corniness of the slasher genre.

A still from 'Freaky'. Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) is shown struggling on the floor of a American Football pitch as she is attacked by the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), who weirds a knife in his hand. Millie is on the ground, her blonde hair splayed across the grass, wearing a mascot uniform of some kind of furry creature. The Blissfield Butcher is on top of her, straddling her, wearing all black. He is a man in his 40s with dark hair.
Universal Pictures

Landon’s direction is fantastic. Coming hot off the Happy Death Day college setting, he’s allowed to flex his skills here with different slasher-esque settings that feature exceptional lighting and set decoration. The wardrobe as well is top-notch, it wouldn’t be a huge shock to learn that the trademark red jacket that Millie’s body wears becomes a Halloween costume staple in the coming years. The kills are also wonderfully executed, featuring some of the best modern practical gore that would make any slasher fan squeal with delight. The craftsmanship on display here is to be commended and celebrated in the way that the film celebrates its genre as a whole.

Landon and Kennedy’s script is wonderous. A smart, cleverly written send up of the slasher genre as a whole. The film is filled to the brim with likable characters and cheeky references to other famous slasher films. It’s also a film that’s not afraid to get sincere and even have queer moments that come off as genuinely authentic.

Freaky is at once a visceral and hilarious experience. A true love letter to the slasher genre as a whole, it will have you grinning from ear to ear from start to finish. It’s not hyperbole to say that Freaky is one of the best slashers in recent memory.

Freaky is out in cinemas on November 13th

by Reyna Cervantes

Reyna (She/They) is located in southern California! They are an aspiring screenwriter with experience in sound design and production work, their 3 favourite films are Evil Dead 2, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Frances Ha. All of their social handles are @JFCDoomblade (twitter, insta, letterboxd).

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