Christopher Langdon has fast become one of my favourite directors. From his Hitchcock inspired Disturbia to two of the greatest teen films in recent years Happy Death Day and its sequel Happy Death Day 2 U, Langdon returns with a Freaky Friday inspired slasher that leans heavily into comedy with a serial killer slant that Blumhouse bring their blood splattering profession into.
This is all-rounded out with some incredibly talented and hilarious leads Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton, both of who do a hilarious and fantastic job of encompassing each other’s bodies. Adding in a pair of support friends, Celeste O’Connor and Misha Osherovich fulfil the black and gay sidekick parts and all combine to help create this film that follows much the same tone as Wes Craven’s masterpiece Scream. This is not a negative thing, the writing is smart, the comedy is hilarious and when it gets slashy, the gore factor is turned up to 11.
Freaky revolves around a serial killer the Blissfield Butcher (Vaughn) who takes up killing teens in small-town USA. After a slew of killings, the butcher finally lands on Millie, a geeky, quiet girl who is still reeling from the death of her father and is feeling trapped in a family that is still figuring out how to deal with their grief. When the butcher stabs Millie with an an ancient dagger called La Dola, they swap bodies and Millie must figure out how to convince her friends about the body swap and find the Butcher to stop the swap from becoming permanent.
Fortunately, we are in really good hands with Langdon who ensures that everything is really tight and succinct. There is a great blend of physical comedy that Vaughn and Newton tap into. Watching Vaughn run as Millie is truly one of the funniest moments in cinema of 2020. That’s right, I put that out there. In turn Newton taps into this dark, broody character that doesn’t say much and has a curling eye that we haven’t seen from her before. Seeing the pure look of delight in her eyes when she hacks someone open with a chainsaw is incredibly entertaining to watch. Similarly, the writing, particularly the one liner quips zip back and forth in a frantic manner and it is going to take a few watches to catch them all.
There’s a great queer side to this movie as well that the director really leans into, the self-aware, self-loathing and acceptance of queer displayed in this film is fantastic. It is expertly told with a comedic edge that is really difficult to get right in this kind of film. Langdon pulls this off effortlessly and is expertly guided by the impressive acting skills of Osherovich who I can’t wait to see more of in the future.
While Freaky isn’t exactly reinventing the horror genre, it is bringing something new to the table and building on the foundation of the Scream series. This is not something that is done lightly or simply, to be able to shine in the history of these now classic films, while still carving out new pathways, Langdon’s approach to modern teen slasher films is a welcome breath of fresh air. Also, we are secretly campaigning for Happy Freaky Death Day next! This crossover NEEDS to happen!