Seventeen-year-old Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) spends her days trying to survive high school and the cruel actions of the popular crowd. But when she becomes the latest target of the Butcher (Vince Vaughn), 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...
There's something in the concept of 'Freaky' that's so obvious, you'd wonder how it hasn't been done before. Body-swap comedies like 'Freaky Friday' have been around for years, as have horror comedies like 'Chucky', 'Tremors', and latter entries in the 'Friday the 13th' franchise. Yet, the two have never crossed paths until now with 'Freaky'.
The concept is breathtakingly simple - stock slasher victim teenager swaps places with crazed slasher - and has such room for comedy, yet 'Freaky' only just manages to scratch around the surface of it. Vince Vaughn is no stranger to either comedies or horrors, for that matter. He played Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of 'Psycho', and he was Todd Phillips' lucky charm in everything from 'Starsky & Hutch' to 'Old School'. That he can go from maniacal slaughterer of asshole rich kids at the start of the movie to inhabiting the soul of a 17-year old teenage girl by the end of it is testament to his skills. He doesn't steal the show from out of anyone. He is the show in this. It's all on him. Consequently, that means the joke stops being funny about half an hour in because, well, it's run out of jokes.
Even when the movie tries to take the body-swap thing to some odd places - a ridiculously awkward make-out scene, for example - you get the sense that the writers and director Christopher Landon ran out of movie before the end of the movie and had to pad things out. It's not all bad, of course. The script toys with horror movie tropes in a broad way - Millie's two friends, for example, are black and gay and point out that they'd normally be dead by now in a regular horror movie. When possessed by the spirit of the evil serial killer, Kathryn Newton gives it a creepy yet comedic edge to it that works in keeping with the tone of the movie.
At just a shade over 100 minutes, 'Freaky' doesn't overstay its welcome and is direct in its approach. Christopher Landon, who previously directed fellow horror-comedy 'Happy Death Day', has some skill in the genre but it's a shame that it's never too funny or too scary to leave a lasting impact, despite the talented cast and the great concept. As mentioned, the jokes run out of steam pretty quickly and the horror and tension are reduced to cheap jump-scares and air-horn quality frights with little attention to atmosphere. Again, that's OK - this is a cheesy B-movie horror-comedy, so if your expectations are placed accordingly, this can be enjoyable enough.