Freaky - Happy Death Day director does Freaky Friday

I only discovered the Happy Death Day films earlier this year but I watched them both back to back and I just loved them - and this looks like it will be equally fun!

Clever idea - looks fun.

I went camping in the woods this weekend. Anticipating that I wouldn’t be able to sleep worth shit (as always happens the first night when I go camping), I downloaded some movies to my phone and so I watched Freaky while cuddled up under a down quilt in <30° weather at 10,000’.

Freaky is not scary in the least, nor really is it funny, but it is a reasonably fun film. What I really liked about it is that it doesn’t waste your time. This is a slasher film and it gets right down to the slashing. The killer is just a big superstrong dude who likes to kill teenagers in brutal ways. No reason or justification is ever provided, though we get a short visual tour through his bedroom, which is like a set designer was told “serial killer kitsch: go wild!”

The real action begins when Vince Vaughan and Kathryn Newton switch places. It’s an interesting choice to have Vaughan’s character be a blank slate so that Newton kind of gets to characterize both of them: first a slightly morose but optimistic teenage girl with the obligatory black and gay friends, then the blank faced killer whose personality is kill. Vaughan actually does an admirable job playing Newton’s character–crucially he doesn’t overdo it and turns in a believable performance.

The murders (and there are many) are creative and fun. The plot is light enough that it doesn’t bog down. It was a good way to spend a sleepless couple of camping hours. One complaint: we’re supposed to believe the pre-switch Kathryn Newton–with her blonde ringlets cascading down beside her beautiful face and her perfectly fit body–is the ugly duckling of her school that the jocks and popular girls all pick on. At least they could have given her glasses, c’mon!

I wanted more Vaughn and less Newton. She’s certainly lovely, and I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of her now that she’s been sucked into the Marvel movie universe. But it was clear to me that Vaughn is the only real pro in the movie. I mean, that scene where he makes out with a teenage boy in the back seat of a car? That was pretty darn hilarious for how much he committed.

But my main problem with Freaky is that it has none of the light touch that made Happy Death Day work so well. It’s bogged down with four or five too many turgidly earnest life lessons. Which is a sure-fire way to kill a fun concept.

C’mon, there’s no way any of the boys in school would look twice at a wallflower like her! So hideous!

It’s always hilarious to me when movies think they can get away with pretending their supermodel-hot leading ladies are homely. I recently watched Sea Fever, in which the gorgeous Hermione Cornfield plays a marine biologist who has no social life and can’t get any dates. Everything else that happens in the movie – a giant sea monster possesses people’s bodies and makes their eyes explode – is far more plausible in comparison.

-Tom

Or the awful poem he recites with the dreadful cringing earnestness of a teenage girl. You can easily see how easy it would be to overplay it into caricature, but he skillfully rides the line and makes it work. There was never a scene he was in where I had any trouble keeping my disbelief at bay.

And darn, I added an ‘a’ to his name every time I typed it. Sorry Vince.

Yes, that exactly! It needed more of that and less of Katherine Newton pretending to be a bad-ass psycho-killer. When it comes to middle-aged celebrities pretending their bodies have been inhabited by a teenage girl, they need at least as solid an ensemble as Jumanji.

-Tom

Honestly, I agree that it’s ridiculous to pretend that hot movie leads are ugly, but it’s not that implausible that a gorgeous girl would end up on the wrong end of the high school social scene. Kids are dicks, and they will pick utterly trivial shit to ostracize folks over, even if they’re good looking. That just makes it more likely they’ll be able to maneuver into popularity, if that’s their goal.

I really liked Freaky, personally, more for the comedic elements than the slasher stuff (I do not particularly like slasher movies). but yes, it’s no Happy Death Day, and a lot of it is absolutely carried by Vince Vaughn.

If this were a podcast and we were doing over/unders for Freaky, my under would probably be something with Lindsey Lohan that I’ve never even seen. But my over would be an obscure arthouse horror movie called The Deeper You Dig. It’s written, directed, shot, edited, and scored by a husband/wife team named John Adams and Toby Poser, out of upstate New York. They’re also the lead actors, along with their daughter. Normally, I’m wary of these kinds of amateur auteur projects, but I really liked this one, and especially for the performances. It’s slow and morose, but it’s a great take on the same basic concepts as Freaky.

The IMDB page is here and it’s available here as part of Amazon Prime. Please don’t read the dopey synopsis if you plan on watching it.

-Tom

Finally watched and like it. The butcher is supposed to be an emotionless killer, so Kathryn Newton played it really well. Whether it is because of her acting chops or not is debatable. Vince Vaughn also plays a teenager well, but that’s got to be due to his acting chops. But In the end it is still very much a genre/slasher movie, with obligatory fake ending.