entertainment

Freaky review: A zany and super gay horror-comedy that's very 2020

Friday the 13th meets Freaky Friday meets Mean Girls - plus an unforgettable gay character

2020-11-09

Words: Jamie Tabberer

Freaky, a new teen horror-comedy from Happy Death Day director Christopher Landon, has been described as Friday the 13th meets Freaky Friday meets Mean Girls - which is a lot to contend with.

But there’s more: there are echoes of Ryan Murphy’s TV shows, in both the chaotic (but never boring) narrative and the effortless LGBTQ+ representation.

Naturally, you can throw Halloween into the mix, while the self-referencing influence of Scream looms large some 25 years later. There’s even a touch of Heathers about it.

But the films I was most reminded of, believe it or not, were the latter two gender/body-swap-themed Jumanji films.

Indeed, Freaky’s faintly absurd story concerns protagonist Millie, pluckily played by Kathryn Newton (above), trading places with a middle-aged serial killer - improbably and hilariously played by Vince Vaughn.

"It’s so ridiculously funny, silly and well-acted that you can’t help but be charmed"

A brief, fantastical background plot involving a cursed dagger is unsatisfying, but prompts a gear switch: from here, Newton and Vaughn play each other, and it’s so ridiculously funny, silly and well-acted that you can’t help but be charmed.

(One last critical note, though: the opening is overfamiliar and, for better or for worse, it's here that most of the grossly unwatchable gore is packed.) 

Vaughn goes all in as a Pitch Perfect-loving girl trapped in the body of a 6.5”, 49-year-old man. The surprise on Vaughn's face when Millie discovers her new penis is a picture, and at one point, he locks lips with a handsome teenage jock and object of Millie’s affection: a surreal but ultimately sweet moment that Landon says is not "played for laughs."

It’s not the only same-sex kiss either (how often does that happen in a mainstream Hollywood movie, let alone a horror film?), as one of Millie’s sharp, resourceful BFFs is of the ‘just happens to be gay’ variety.

There’s no plodding coming out story for the Wicked-watching, Grindr-scrolling Josh, played by nonbinary star Misha Osherovich – he just is. An ending that could feasibly be described as feminist is also forward-thinking and refreshing.

Freaky succeeds more as a comedy, undoubtedly. But the end result is a modern Frankenstein’s Monster of a movie that breathes new, bizarre life into the slasher sub-genre. And nobody saw that coming. Le freak, c’est… shook?

3/5

Freaky is out on Friday 13 November in the US. It is slated for release in the UK in 2020, according to IMDB.

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