BEYONDFEST 2020 REVIEW – Recently in a review, I talked about the power that fans bring to the genre when they create their own vision of what they would want to see in horror. Christopher Landon has shown the world in the last few years with his films that what he would like to see more of is horror-comedies. Coming off the heels of the success of his Ground Hog Day style slasher series Happy Death Day he has now brought into the world his take on the Freak Friday formula. Freaky, a body-swapping slasher comedy premiered at Mission Tiki Drive-in as part of Beyondfest to uproarious laughter that could even be heard in the packed parking lot.
For Millie (Kathryn Newton) life has become utterly miserable. With the mean girl click bullying her in the hallways, the woodshop teacher berating her in front of the class, and a fractured home life, things couldn’t get much worse. At least that’s what she thought before the fabled Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn) plunged a dagger into her. Mornings are hard enough without waking up in the body of a serial killer and now Millie must team up with her best friends, and her crush that barely knows she exists, to stop the killer wearing her skin and figure out a way to switch them back.
When an actor is playing the opposite gender there is always the pitfall of playing up the stereotypes and creating a caricature rather than a persona. In the first scene where Vince Vaughn was inhabited by the 17-year-old Millie, he is seen running with his wrists up and by his sides and it looked like we were in for a rough ride. As the film went on though the performances by both of the body swapped characters became very transformative. From mannerism to the way they both speak, nothing feels outrageous or over the top, these are characters transitioning into life in someone else’s body.
With the stellar performance from Vince and Kathryn, as well as all the side characters, everything else has been dialed up to match the acting quality. Immediately out of the gate the blood-red title care announces it is Thursday the 12th, not so subtly announcing that this will be a tongue in cheek experience. From there Freaky is a wonderfully curated film that was made for the horror enthusiast and the High School Musical fan alike. Pulling from so many sources Christopher Landon has captured the very essence of the high school drama-comedy and the slasher and created a movie that is the perfect mixture that is beyond funny.
Like Icarus flying to close to the sun, there is always the possibility of a great movie trying to do too much and falling under its own ambition. Freaky on the other hand found a way to juggle perfectly timed comedy, thrilling set-pieces, heartwarming drama, and so much more and still be a coherent and gorgeous to look at movie. As times as bleak as the ones we are living in right now, this is not only a breath of fresh air, but a film to help us all to a well-deserved laugh.
9 out of 10