This body swap horror comedy goes for the kill.
We’ve all seen movies about switching bodies around. For example: there were both versions of “Freaky Friday” with Jodie Foster switching bodies with Barbara Harris and with Lindsey Lohan switching bodies with Jamie Lee Curtis. There was also the dismal 2002 comedy “The Hot Chick” with Rob Schneider switching places with Rachael McAdams, and that was her Hollywood debut BTW. And there was the guilty pleasure “The Change-Up” with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman swapping lives.
Now, we have “Freaky,” which alters the set-up into a horror comedy, and it merges together very well. It was written and directed by Christopher Landon, who spliced the genes of “Groundhog Day” and “Scream” in “Happy Death Day,” and transcended genres in the sequel “Happy Death Day 2U.” Now, he guides Vince Vaughn as a series killer known as the Butcher and Kathryn Newton as a quiet and tormented teenager named Millie Kessler. When they switch bodies, we’re enjoying how the actors adapt in each other’s personalities.
How do they switch bodies? The Butcher stabs her with an ancient dagger. The Butcher is now Millie, and Millie is now the Butcher. I’m going to use the words “evil” and good” so you readers won’t get confused. I’ve seen this done on cartoons before, and it’s annoyingly obligatory, so I’m not gonna succumb to that gimmick.
The evil Millie wakes up all quiet and emotionless in front of her widowed mother (Katie Finneran), while the good Millie wakes up all freaked out in the Butcher’s body. The evil Millie puts on a sexy red coat, a black shirt, and blue jeans, and comes to school, where she murders both a gossiper (Melissa Collazo) and the jerky wood shop teacher (Alan Ruck). And the good Millie must convince her friends-Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich)-she’s really Millie. Since this isn’t a cartoon where the voices get switched in other bodies, it’s going to be very complicated when the good Millie must dodge the feds, including her older cop sister (Kelly Lamor Wilson), who obviously wouldn’t listen to her in his body. This has to be obligatory and typical in a live-action movie, but I guess it wouldn’t be much fun without challenges.
But that’s only half her worries, because if she doesn’t switch bodies with him by midnight, the change will be permanent.
On the other hand, though, the good Millie is able to change herself, since being in a man’s body has given her more confidence. This includes revealing her feelings for her crush Josh (Uriah Shelton).
“Freaky” is funny when we see Vaughn act like a girl in a man’s body the same way we saw Zachery Levi play a kid in a superhero’s body in “Shazam.” It’s also delicious when Newton puts on sexy clothes, and kicks the blood off a finger. And it’s sweet and touching when we see Millie figure out who she really is on the inside. Both these actors are versatile and sharp when they switch places, and they also work when they’re themselves. And they’re both given energetic support from O’Connor, Osherovich, and Shelton.
Landon started off with bombs like “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” and “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,” but after making the “Happy Death Day” movies and “Freaky,” he really has the guts and glory to make horror comedies that satirizes the nostalgia of original films.