Movie Review: Freaky3rd January 2021
Horror is an ever-changing genre. Those that don’t adapt to the stormy tides of slashers, arthouse pieces and B-Movie love letters will rightfully drown in a sea of oversaturation. I assume that’ll happen to Freaky and its director, Christopher Landon. On the warpath of consistent mediocrity, his latest feature teams Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton together for a bit of Freaky Friday nonsense. A quick bit of MacGuffin use involving a knife and a bit of running around, and away we go into a film that has all the bland inconsistencies of the usual slasher flick, but with the added bonus of featuring the man that starred in Dodgeball. What a strange year it’s been, nobody was going to leave this one looking good.
Bless Vaughn, though, because he tries his best here. His unnatural possession via a teenage girl sees him put on a high-pitched voice and flaunt around in some sick nightmarish vision. Twerking, dancing, and screaming just like he’s always wanted to, but until now has had to repress such yearnings. Freaky is his time to shine, but I can’t fathom anything worse than this execution. A botched job from start to finish, all the failings of this come from Landon. His directing thus far has been less than stellar. I doubt that’ll improve if he sees no reason to remove himself from the slasher genre. Pigeonholing his work into a genre he can barely keep up with is a rather bold strategy for his career.
Not as bold as Newton, though, who may appear to be a leading star, but ends up with very few lines of dialogue. Channelling her best Vaughn impression, her few lines of dialogue and major appearances to kill supporting actors are somewhat weak. Not as weak as the script though, filled with drivel and cliché and not at all trying to hide it. We’re shown all the tropes of the genre in record time, and rather than treating them with wry admonishment, we’re instead given a doubling down of redundant stylings and ineffective treatments to storylines we’ve seen far too many times before. Friday the 13th, Scream, and all the usual popular horrors of the 80s and 90s make brief appearances. It feels more like theft than inspiration.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Landon applies this theory to something that is, very clearly, broken. Such a predictable bore, a genuine snooze of a film that struggles to keep its pacing and energy together. Flatlining relatively early, and with two whole kills of interest, Freaky will anger those looking for horror, and drag for anyone in search of a gory comedy. Neither combine with any sort of competence, a sad shame that feels rushed, unfinished and oddly charmless. My hopes were astronomically high for a man that wrote Paranormal Activity 4.