It’s weird that as I type this, I realise there has never been a terrible body swap film. There have been some that are better than others, sure. But even the ones that fall a little flat are entertaining. This is in the latter camp.
Directed by Christopher Landon (“Happy Death Day”) ‘Freaky’ is a low-budget high-concept supernatural slasher, that tells the tale of Seventeen-year-old Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) who spends her days trying to survive high school and the cruel actions of the popular crowd. She’s “Hollywood ugly”. But when she becomes the latest target of the Butcher, the town’s infamous serial killer, her senior year becomes the least of her worries. When the Butcher’s mystical dagger causes him and Millie to magically switch bodies, the frightened teen learns she has just 24 hours to get her identity back before she looks like a middle-aged maniac forever.
Written by Michael Kennedy, the script is incredibly formulaic. Kennedy pays so much homage to the predecessors, that it often falls into the trappings that bogged those down.
There is some laugh out loud moments of comedy, watching Vaughn swivel his hips like a cheerleader, whilst flirting with Millie’s crush (Uriah Shelton), is funny. For about 15 minutes. Whilst the entire cast bring energy to these roles, they can’t stop the premise from running out of steam.
The main problem is that Millie is so ill-defined as a character. She’s the school mascot, so she’s a loser. But she still looks like Kathryn Newton. At one point, a sneering football player calls her a “but-her-face” implying she’s ugly. Her friends are also written to be just as paper-thin, there’s the black one and the gay one. “You’re black and I’m gay! We are so dead!” Josh (Misha Osherovich) shouts at one point. That’s about all the character they’re given.
I guess it could be argued that Kennedy was in fact writing a pastiche of tired old Hollywood cliche’s, that by making the characters so paper-thin, they would come full circle and actually be the most well-defined characters in cinematic history. But, I doubt it.
Freaky is released in UK cinemas July 2nd.