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Review: 'Freaky' is a body-swap comedy with a slasher movie personality

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Kathryn Newton as The Butcher in Millie Kessler's body in Freaky, co-written and directed by Christopher Landon.{ }(Photo: Universal Pictures)

Freaky
3 out of 5 Stars
Director:
Christopher Landon
Writer: Michael Kennedy, Christopher Landon
Starring: Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn, Alan Ruck
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Rated: R for strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, and language throughout

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SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: The morning after being attacked and stabbed by a homicidal maniac, Millie, a high school outsider, wakes up in the body of the Blissfield Butcher, the man who tried to kill her.

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Review: Director/writer Christopher Landon’s “Happy Death Day” films are among my favorite horror/sci-fi/comedy films to come out in the past decade. They’re clever, embrace their silliness and still manage to provide frights. It doesn’t hurt that Tree Gelbman (played by Jessica Rothe) makes for a fantastic protagonist.

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With “Freaky,” Landon has created a film that lifts the body swapping of “Freaky Friday” and merged it with the masked killer motif of “Friday the 13th Part 3" and beyond. "Freaky" gives us another strong, female protagonist in Millie (aptly played by Kathryn Newton). She’s something of an outcast. Her father died the year before and her mother is becoming something of a lead weight as she wants to graduate and move on to college but feels responsible to take care of her still-grieving mother. She’s never been popular but is enough of a threat that the popular students go out of their way to put her down. It could be argued that Millie needs to learn how to stand up for herself. Her selfless nature has become her greatest weakness.

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So, when Millie’s body is taken over by a homicidal maniac and she begins to exact revenge on those who treat her poorly, it’s hard not to root for her (even if it isn’t really her). In the fantasy world of horror films, the kids deserve what they get.

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Of course, with the homicidal killer’s soul trapped in Millie’s body, we also get Millie’s soul trapped in the body of the Blissfield Butcher portrayed by Vince Vaughen. Seeing Vaughen act like a teenage girl isn’t remotely as effective or entertaining as watching Newton give two tremendously different performance as real Millie and killer Millie.

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The film’s violence is brutal and occasionally explicit. I wouldn’t call it realistic, but Landon has clearly embraced the horror trope of trying to invent new and unique ways of killing off his characters.

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“Freaky” is something of a Frankenstein's monster in that it uses a lot of familiar parts to create a story that is different, if not exactly original. If you enjoy contemporary horror films that pay tribute to the past with a tongue firmly planted in its cheek, you'll find "Freaky" to be an amusing adventure.


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