Director(s): Christopher Landon
Writer(s): Michael Kennedy, Christopher Landon
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich
It’s always fun to see a rising star in the horror world and I’m laying my claim now that Christopher Landon will be an absolute LEGEND in the realm of horror. I’m sure he’ll go on and direct plenty of flicks outside of the macabre genre but I’m saying it here first; like the cool kids who boast about seeing a band in a ratty little club, I’m going to say now that this director will be with the likes of Jon Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Dario Argento, etc. His ability to create movies out of familiar tropes is genius and although the concept itself would be enough to make him stand out, the movies are solid horror-comedies which again, is a sub-genre that’s not nearly as utilized as it should, so yes, he stands out in the best kinds of ways.
His first movie that stood out for me was Happy Death Day where he took the familiar concept of living the same day over and over again and added a wonderfully macabre twist. I was already elated that it was entertaining in both comedy and kills so I was giddy to find out there was a sequel that again, was quite the follow up that actually elevated the series (enough now on both these flicks since I may write about them later lol). The reason however, why I chose to write about this particular flick is that this flick will be forever embedded in my mind since it was the first HORROR flick that I had bought via streaming during the ultimate lock-down fest we knew as 2020 and although there are enough REAL horrific memories of that year, I’ll let this movie be a flickering light in an otherwise dark time.
With two hits under his belt, I was curious on what Mr. Landon was going to do next in the fear that he might be a one trick pony but then the general synopsis of Freaky was released and I remember clapping in an empty office while reading the exciting news off my phone. Remember all those movies where two people swab bodies? Of course you do but just in case here are a couple of my personal faves; Big, Vice Versa, Dream a Little Dream, The Hot Chick, The Change Up…am I missing one? Oh yes, FREAKY FRIDAY. Since everyone’s familiar with the basic concept, what would you say if a serial killer of Michael Myers proportions switches body with a meek High School girl? GENIUS! I mean, It’s rare when a description of a movie makes you so giddy that you almost curse the article for making you wait so long since production didn’t even start yet but hell, it’s great to think about the final product. It did however, reveal that Vince Vaughn was involved which was the bloody cherry on top because who else can be hilarious while sporting a large figure/frame? Vaughn has had plenty of experience being a tough person but you forget about his large stance sometimes because he’s usually doing a great job giving you the giggles. However, I remember his take on Norman Bates in the odd (really odd) remake of Psycho and you remember that the man give a very creepy performance if necessary.
Once the trailer dropped, it was everything I was hoping for since you got to see Vaughn as a silent masked killer…and also a melodramatic teenage girl. Again, pure genius and sort of annoyed I had to wait a little bit longer. By the time the movie hit the screen, it was not the movie screen that I was hoping to enjoy this treat but the smaller screen in my home since COVID was still rampant (…or should I say when everything was shut down). Although the screen was much smaller, I remember thinking this could be an opportunity to eat restaurant quality grub while watching a horror movie premier! Cut to some delivered Pad Thai and the viewing was ON.
First off, and I mean this in the most endearing way; there’s nothing surprising about this flick. The teenager is an outsider, she has good friends and some mean bullies and yes, she switches bodies via magical object with a serial killer that’s definitely an embodiment of slashers from 80s. That’s not the point with these kinds of flicks however; what Christopher Landon does beautifully is depend on the performances of the actors with clever dialog and sprinkles the movie with some entertaining kills. Both performances from the leads Vaughn and Newton are as top notch as a horror fan can ask for in the sense where it’s not over the top but enough dramatics to make the movie entertaining. I can actually say the same thing about the entire cast; although nothing too original about the movie, the direction of the actors made all of them quite likable since they never overdo their parts and let the witty dialog drive the film in between scenes of bloody mayhem. There’s even some romance in the flick…and I’ll leave it at that because it was just so DAMN good on how it plays out in a soon to be infamous car scene that left me in stitches!
I know a director can’t make the same flick all the time at the risk of becoming stale (I’m not an artist so just guessing on that one) but even the greatest directors of all time usually come back to the genre at some point. It’s more than okay to go outside your comfort zone and make beautiful cinema but it seems the trend is that the directors always come home to what they know and make what they know even better because that’s what artists do, they evolve. Having said that, I hope Mr. Landon makes all the kinds of movies he wants but once in a while, come back to put horror twists on tried and true tropes to entertain us for decades to come!
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.