Stars: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, Katie Finneran, Uriah Shelton
The latest picture from quality horror purveyors Blumhouse is a typically brisk, bloody and smart riff on the body swap genre bolstered by game central performances.
It begins in suitably gory fashion on Wednesday 11th as serial killer of teens the Blissfield Butcher (Vaughn) despatches four of his victims in a graphic manner before finding and stealing an ancient Aztec dagger from their parents’ mansion.
Jump to Thursday 12th where Millie Kessler (Newton) a dowdy wallflower teen (Hollywood dowdy though meaning she’s very pretty but frumpily dressed) is enduring another day of bullying. That night after performing at the homecoming football game as their beaver mascot she is attacked by the Butcher who stabs her in the shoulder before fleeing the scene.
On the morning of Friday 13th (Freaky Friday 13th! Geddit? Oh, please yourselves then) Millie and the Butcher wake up to find they have switched bodies. The Butcher quickly takes advantage of his situation to begin picking off the teens in the school. Meanwhile Millie, after persuading her friends, token black student Nyla (O’Connor) and token gay Josh (Osherovich) that it is in fact her in the Butcher’s hulking body by performing their elaborate secret handshake (some very nice physical comedy from Vaughn here), sets about finding out how to stop the slaughter. A Google search reveals that they have only twenty-four hours to track the Butcher down before the body swap is irreversible.
Director-co-writer Christopher ‘Happy Death Day’ Landon deftly combines the teen and horror tropes to endearingly daft effect, with the horror elements ranging from comically operatic gruesomeness as victims are despatched in elaborate ways, to ‘Scream’ style knowingness as gay Josh frets over the odds of his survival.
It doesn’t all come off: a sequence where Millie’s mother Coral (Finneran) confides in the unseen Butcher not knowing her daughter is possessing his body doesn’t quite achieve the pathos intended, but go-for-broke performances from Newton and Vaughn carry the story over the odd bump. The scene where Millie’s long-time crush Booker (Shelton) finally makes his feeling known to her is as farcically funny as it is genuinely sweet.
Freaky is released 2nd July
Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm