Freaky (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): Freaky Friday the 13th

“Freaky”, which is incidentally released “Freaky Deathday” in South Korean theaters, is a little fun horror comedy film which accomplishes its tasks as well as intended in its small genre playground. Although its juxtaposition of two familiar story promises is not exactly very fresh in my humble opinion, this latest offering from the Blumhouse Productions works enough to entertain us thanks to its clever subversion of genre elements, and I will not deny that I chuckled more than once during my viewing.

After the obligatory opening sequence where several adolescent characters are murdered by a mysterious figure one by one at a place where they happen to spend together at the night of November 11th, Wednesday, the movie moves onto the very next morning as its young heroine, Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton), begins another usual day along with her mother and older sister. While her mother tries to be cheery and caring, both Millie and her older sister know well that their mother still does not get over the recent death of her husband, and that is why Millie has been conflicted about whether she can leave their home for her college education.

Anyway, things are miserable for this shy and introverted girl as usual when she goes to her high school. Although she has two good friends who have usually stood by her, Millie is often ridiculed and tormented by some mean students, and she is also bullied by one of her teachers, a stiff and obnoxious prick who has no qualms on humiliating her in front of other students in her class just because she happens to fail to meet his expectation.

Because the school is having its homecoming week, a big American football game is held during the following evening, and Millie attends the game as she has to perform there as the school mascot. Not long after she happens to be left alone in front of the field after everyone else is gone, a masked stranger suddenly appears in front of her, and, of course, she soon finds herself desperately running away from this apparently dangerous figure.

And then a very weird thing happens. When the figure, who is the very dude who committed all those horrible murders during the opening sequence, finally catches Millie and then promptly attempts to stab her with an ancient dagger he happened to acquire at the end of the opening sequence, both of them are suddenly thrown into a strange magical happening, and then his attempt to kill Millie is quickly thwarted by her older sister, who happens to be a local police officer and luckily arrives at the scene in time. After going through several necessary procedures under her older sister’s care at a local police station, Millie, who is still dumbfound due to her very traumatic experience, goes back to her home and then sleeps, and then, in the very next morning, she wakes up to find herself inside the body of the man who attempted to kill her at last night. 

What follows after that is a series of comic moments involved with Millie’s clumsy attempts of getting accustomed to being inside the body of the killer. Although quite panic and disoriented, Millie tries to find any possible way for getting her body back, but the situation is quite disadvantageous for her in more than one aspect, and it certainly takes lots of efforts for her to convince her two friends to help her regaining her body. Thanks to their subsequent help, it turns out that there is indeed a way to reverse the body swap between her and the killer, but that should be done before the upcoming midnight, and she will be trapped inside the killer’s body forever if she fails in the end.    

While he is initially rather bland as a murderous lunatic despite having shown us his more intense sides during recent years, Vince Vaughn goes all the way for comic modes once he begins to play the heroine of the film, and he did a hilarious job of channeling her awkwardness with her current physical status. As two good friends willing to help their best friend, Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich have a good comic timing with Vaughn during their scenes, and Osherovich later gets a funny self-conscious line which may amuse you a lot.

On the opposite, Kathryn Newton, who previously appeared as the murdered daughter of Frances McDormand’s heroine character in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017), has a ball with handling two very different modes. As a nice high school girl with some personal issues to deal with, she is likable enough to hold our attention during her early scenes, and Katie Finneran and Dana Drori are also believable as her character’s mother and older sister. When she later has to balance her performance well between bloody horror and absurd comedy, Newton boldly goes for a number of big moments including the one when she confidently walks into the school with lots of change in attitude and appearance, and I guess we will probably see more of her considerable talent during next several years.

Overall, “Freaky” does not bring that much to its overlapped genre territories, but it is at least one or two steps up from director/co-writer Christopher Landon’s previous horror comedy film “Happy Deathday” (2017), which also tried to mix comedy and horror but was not that successful in comparison despite some good moments for laughs. Although I must point out that there are several notable flaws including the rather contrived finale, the movie is a little better than expected, so I will not grumble for now. 

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