Blumhouse has found a little niche market in taking classic comedies and turning them in to bonafide horror movies. After “Happy Death Day 2 U,” they take the creaky Disney classic “Freaky Friday” and add a slasher twist to it. Shockingly, it works more times than it doesn’t. Christopher Landon doesn’t just embrace the classic narrative, but he tops it off with a gory slasher movie, and even injects so many LGBTQ overtones that it wouldn’t surprise me if it picked up steam as a LGTBQ classic very soon.
Seventeen-year-old Millie Kessler spends her days trying to survive high school and the cruel actions of the popular crowd. But when she becomes the latest target of the Butcher, the town’s infamous serial killer, her senior year becomes the least of her worries. When the Butcher’s mystical dagger causes him and Millie to magically switch bodies, the frightened teen learns she has just 24 hours to get her identity back before she looks like a middle-aged maniac forever.
While the movie has every chance to go on autopilot and allow Vince Vaughn to steal the show, “Freaky” is very good in keeping the co-star restrained. His performance is surprisingly layered enough to where he’s a convincing knife wielding slasher, as well as a young girl completely stuck in another body. Vaughn’s performance is one of the many highlights of Christopher Landon’s remake, which near perfectly mixes a teen dramedy with a gore soaked slasher. Once Millie approaches fate and ends up switching bodies with The Butcher, it becomes a matter of vindication for Millie who wreaks havoc on so many people that cause her misery.
While the body of Millie allows the Butcher to wreak havoc generally unnoticed, Landon has a good time with this element staging some brutal kills. The carnage that Millie is afforded will whet the appetites of many a slasher buffs, all the while the Millie herself accidentally reconciles herself with her family and friends, especially as she mourns the death of her family a year prior. Kate Finneran is very good in the role as Millie’s mother, a widow who is lost in a haze of depression after the death of her husband. Best of all Kathryn Newton whose turn as Millie is sweet, subtle, and gut wrenching as a heroine pulled back and forth between her warring mother and big sister (Dana Drori is fantastic).
That said, I wish we’d have gotten so much more time with Millie’s friends Nyla and Josh. They have zero sub-plots in the entire narrative, and considering how charming they are as emotional support and heroes in their own right, I would have loved some more focus on them. That said, “Freaky” works on so many levels as a horror film, a comedy, a remake, a meta-slasher, social commentary, and oh so much more. It’s one of the more surprising, and satisfying, genre outings of 2020.
Now in Theaters and available on VOD today.