FILM UNFILTERED – ‘Freaky’ combines laughs and jumps for a scary good time

FILM UNFILTERED – ‘Freaky’ combines laughs and jumps for a scary good time

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Over the last couple of months as I return weekly to Cinemaworld in Lincoln and wave to the few employees staffing the counter and stop to converse with them, I glance around at the empty lobby and keep asking myself where everyone is. I do understand the economics of major distributors holding back their “big” films they’ve invested so much into since they know they’re not going to recoup their money now in light of the pandemic.

Last week, while I was interested in checking out “Jungleland” with Charlie Hunnam, which was filmed on location in Fall River, Mass., I instead opted to check out “Freaky” and it’s a decision I’m glad I made.

“Freaky” is from Blumhouse Films, which over the last few years has been releasing smart, small budget horror films that have been scoring at the box office. “Get Out,” “The Invisible Man” and “Fantasy Island” are just a few of their recent hits and “Freaky” definitely fits the mold of another potential win for executive producer Jason Blum.

Interestingly, launching after Halloween and before Thanksgiving, “Freaky” takes place in the small town of Blissfield leading up to homecoming weekend. The film opens with the predictable setup of four teens drinking and hanging out at one girl’s house, talking about the “Butcher,” a deranged sociopath who has been murdering kids since the nineties. Without fail, the Butcher (Vince Vaughn) shows up and dispatches the quartet in a gruesome and bloody way. He also grabs an ornate knife from the house that has ties to ancient Mayan culture.

Then we meet the cute but shy and bullied Millie (Kathryn Newton) who is struggling to fit in but thankfully has two great friends in Josh (Misha Osherovich) and Nyla (Celeste O’Connor). Millie is secretly crushing on one of the football players, Booker Strode (Uriah Shelton). He is her partner in shop class which is run by Mr. Fletcher (Alan Ruck) who isn’t too keen on Millie either. There’s also an annoying class gossip queen, Ryler (Melissa Collazo) who posts everything on TikTok whether she’s actually friends with people or not. The setup for revenge is plated early and when Millie is attacked after the big game by the Butcher and there’s some sort of magical mix-up; the next morning the pair wake up having swapped bodies, Butcher in Millie’s and vice versa.

This is where the real fun begins and the film gains traction. The teen girl in a grown man’s body invites all sorts of laughs and one super cringeworthy moment with her football crush. Vaughn is absolutely hilarious here acting like a 17-year-old girl, batting his eyes and coping with a lack of strength he no longer has. The Butcher is stuck in Millie’s body and is soon lashing out at everybody at the high school that has done her wrong. There are some great callbacks to many classic horror films too. Booker’s last name is Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis’ character from “Halloween”) and most of the murders use weapons that Michael Myers, Jason and Leatherface used in their films. Millie’s two best friends also provide some great comic relief. There’s a ton of laughs and an equal number of jump scares in this.

“Freaky” is easily one of the best films I’ve seen in the last few months.

The film is rated R.

Kathryn Newton, left, and Vince Vaughn star in the body-swapping comedy thriller “Freaky.”