After two consecutive shows being canceled in 2020, the third would have been a good one for Freaky, but in 2021. The final production from studio Blumhouse by the directors of Happy Birthdead will once again be boiling in the land of teen films mixed with horror films. This time it’s for a hybrid between Freaky Friday – In My Mother’s Skin and a slasher sprinkled with social commentary (but not too much) and goofy kills. Remove the popcorn and chainsaw.
HIGH BLOOD MUSICAL
Freaky’s first great quality is the respect tinged with the soft mocking undertones with which it approaches the horror film genre, and more specifically slasher. Simply put, slashers often feature a group of people wrestling with a scheming assassin who is almost invincible, a huge and terrifying figure who has never been humanized. If possible, create a group made up of exclusively teenagers who are fighting the killer as much as fighting their own hormones. Between The Claws of the night , Halloween , mask night , Friday the 13th , Scream … examples are legions.
From the first image where “Wednesday the 11th” appears with the same tagline as Friday the 13th, to a few lines that feel (“You’re black, I’m gay, we’re going to die so much”), this film play passionately on clichés of a familiar kind. But the scenario avoids the trappings of humor level 36 la Deadpool which pretends to dynamite all the clichés until finally entangled in it. The tone of the film remains first-rate without ever preventing itself from soft perversions of mockery or comic projection. Mainly because beneath the layers of his teen horror film, Freaky allowed himself to approach the welcome themes of society.
Obviously, don’t look for ultra-feminist pamphlets blowing up patriarchal dominance with riddles in guiboles. Nevertheless, Freaky allows himself to filter the discourse over time through his characters, his adventures, and even his murders. Most of the male characters are downright idiots (American footballers are like carpentry teachers); the main character of the police authority is embodied by Millie’s sister, the main character; one of Millie’s two best friends is a gay character who escapes the La Cage aux folles cliché (only to fall back on someone else, of course, but this is just the beginning)…
So yeah, this speech is not at the heart of Freaky and the latter is in no way claiming to meet Virginie Despentes and Michael Myers. Also, if the movie distracts or pokes fun at certain cliches, it’s better to fall back on others. But these distinct touches contribute to the feel of the feature film, which is embellished with an aura of little wit that suits him so well. Mainly because he played the concept so well, especially thanks to casting at full rest.
(S) HE’S SO Odd
Body swap films have almost become a genre of their own, opening the door to as many curiosities as forgotten comedies. We can definitely make bingo with all the obligatory phases where the moral of “This change of point of view makes me aware of real things” is the most toxic. Freaky prefers the self-assured metaphor of a young girl, just as classic, but not too irresistible.
So, by finding herself in a hulking body, Millie will finally gain confidence and break free from that ugly teenage girl posture in her skin, by letting go in that part, some jokes about the fact of having a penis. The film ticks various boxes without even thinking about it and the premise doesn’t take up too much space, thanks to its succinct screenplay and collected over 3 days, but mainly thanks to the translators who give themselves to their heart’s content.
Kathryn Newton, the 24-year-old actress and headliner of the Big Little Lies and series The Society, does flawlessly on both registers. From a very introverted and introverted young girl, she moves on to an ultra-sexual young woman who is convinced of her femininity with beautiful playfulness. Special mention for its reptilian gaze basking on the skin of its potential victim, always seems to be looking for the ideal point of attack. Supporting roles are not to be missed: Katie Finneran is perfect as a mother who is a little lost after a bereavement, Alan Ruck is abhorrent as a contemptuous carpentry teacher, Celeste O’Connor-Misha Ocherovitch duo in the perfect tandem of teammates…
But especially Vince Vaughn the real appeal of the film. If actors seem from now on to favor darker roles, particularly on the side of S. Craig Zahler (Section 99 – The High Security District, Dragged On The Asphalt), he’s made a fanfare comeback for our most delicious delight. We’ve never seen such an actorI’ve had fun for a while, and just watching her run like a “1m60 petite blonde girl” is enough to make your nose pant. Massacre that allows in particular to hide the flaws of the feature film.
Blumhouse, the production house behind Freaky, has made low-cost budgets its hallmark. Instead, directors benefit from total creative freedom (like having the right to go wherever you want, but at the wrong pace). A formula that pays off when filmmakers make it past their devices, like Get Out, Upgrade or Invisible Man. But that can also provide a very cheap aspect to feature films.
Christopher Landon is not a great director and each shot makes him feel more painful. Sets, each more shallow than the next (high school, ghost train, police station, factory…) follow one another in uninspired shots, saved by a light that somewhat camouflages the film’s lack of resources. With a budget of $5 million, or a quarter of what Vince Vaughn could get for a film in another era, it’s hard to do otherwise.
We mentioned above the clichés that movies avoid in order to better wallow in others. This film doesn’t avoid certain obligatory parts of “teen movies” with a fauna of cliché high school characters: plague, footballer idiot, bullies, but also a handsome footballer kid who differs from his cronies who see what real person Millie is beyond appearance. The same goes for Millie’s character, whose film wants to make people understand that she’s a rejected outcast from her first minutes in high school, chaining classic signals to the best of bland sensations (nails biting, passing plague, etc.)
This is probably the biggest criticism that can be made with this film. While we were really hoping for an ultra-bloody dirty children’s movie that stomped every convention with glee, we ended up with a grisly teen patchwork and some gory projections (murders are still hilarious), but set on familiar rails. The final scene still offers a great conclusion, and let’s see if the film is more punk and violent than it should be.