Why 'Freaky' Is an Unexpected Horror Delight

It's the new slasher movie from the director of 'Happy Death Day.'

freaky movie
Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn | Brian Douglas/Universal Pictures
Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn | Brian Douglas/Universal Pictures

Time means nothing right now. Sure, it may be the middle of November and Christmas decorations are starting to go up, but it could just as easily be October 31. That is to say: There's really no need to stop the frightfest just because Halloween is over. Luckily, this Friday the 13th, Universal is releasing a new horror gem for those who still want to get scared and maybe have a bloody good time. Freaky, the latest movie from Blumhouse, is a silly, scary delight. Why should you watch it? I'll enumerate the reasons!

What's it about?

I'll admit that on its surface Freaky doesn't seem super-appealing: What if a serial killer played by Vince Vaughn swapped bodies with a shy high school student. Mille (Kathryn Newton of Big Little Lies and Blockers) is a quiet teen dealing with a depressed, widowed mother (Katie Finneran). She has two BFFs (Celeste O'Connor and Misha Osherovich), but is easily bullied by both students and teachers alike. One night her mother forgets to pick her up. Left alone, wearing a mascot costume, she's attacked by the Blissfield Butcher (Vaughn), who has already murdered four of her classmates. Except this time the Butcher uses a fancy dagger he found encased in a display in a rich kid's house. When he stabs Millie he also gets hurt and the next morning they wake up in each other's bodies. Hilarity ensues. The Butcher, now inhabiting Millie's skin, spruces up her look with a high pony and a leather jacket and takes her place in high school to create chaos. Meanwhile, Millie, now with the lumbering physique of a wanted murderer, tries to prove to her pals it really is her and save the day.

It's from one of the most fun horror filmmakers around

If you haven't watched Happy Death Day, stop right here. Go, watch Happy Death Day, and return back. Like Freaky, Happy Death Day has no reason to be as good as it is, but Christopher Landon—who is the late actor Michael Landon's son—has proven himself a master of taking well-trod formulas and adding a horror spin to them. With Happy Death Day it was "What if Groundhog Day but with a slasher?" With Freaky it's: "What if Freaky Friday but with a slasher?" Both work great because of Landon's grasp of tone. He manages to keep the goofy spirit of his premises alive while still opting for tons of gory bloodshed and allowing for genuine emotional beats.

Vince Vaughn and Misha Osherovich | Brian Douglas/Universal Pictures

It's gnarly

From the opening sequence, in which The Butcher goes after some partying teens who'd coincidentally just discussed the myth of the Butcher, it's clear that Landon is not going to skimp when it comes to the kills. Freaky is pretty gory. I don't want to spoil the creative ways in which various characters meet their ends, but let's just say shop class gets pretty graphic.

It leans into the weird

Landon, who co-wrote the script with Michael Kennedy, leans into the strangeness of the movie's premise in admirable ways, allowing for moments that, yes, rely on the sight gag of teenage girl in Vince Vaughn's body but are somehow also moving. Take for instance a sequence in which Millie as the Butcher is hiding out in the changing area of the discount department store where her mother works. Thinking she's just a (male) customer, her mom starts engaging her daughter in conversation, and they connect over polo shirts and loss. Then, Millie's mom asks her out on a date. Yeah, it's fucked up, but it's also sweet. Freaky is chock full of moments like this where the situation yields meaningful downbeats couched in comedy. Maybe it doesn't totally work as a treatise on gender in the 21st century, but it does use its concept for more than just easy laughs.

Where can I watch Freaky?

For now, Freaky is only playing in theaters, which is unfortunate, given the recent surge in coronavirus cases across the country. We cannot encourage you to see it in an enclosed movie theater right now. However, if you live near to a drive-in theater, check to see if Freaky is playing. The good news is that Freaky will be hitting VOD on November 30, as Blumhouse honcho Jason Blum appeared to confirm in a tweet. He deleted the tweet, though, so maybe he wasn't supposed to spill the bloody beans so early. Still, while Freaky maybe a very fun surprise of a movie, please wait to watch it safely.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.