Freaky review – gore and cliches abound in body-swap teen horror

Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton have fun switching the roles of teenage girl and serial killer, but does it add up?

A high-school body-swap comedy blended with a homicidal slasher horror: it’s one of the few genre mashup combinations that has the potential to be greater, rather than less, than the sum of its parts. Factor in the casting of Vince Vaughn, who gets to be both monolithic and terrifying, like a murderous Easter Island head, and also disarming, goofy and kind of adorable. And add to this Christopher Landon, a writer-director who, having penned several of the Paranormal Activity franchise films and directed Happy Death Day, is certainly having a moment in genre cinema. It’s a recipe for lurid, inventively gory fun, and to an extent, it delivers.

But there’s a certain laziness to the writing which undermines the picture, a sense that Landon is too caught up with his high concept to build the solid foundations that allow us to suspend disbelief. Cliches abound: there’s a cursed ancient artefact, a sassy gay best friend, a homecoming dance. And the killer, whether he’s in Vaughn’s body or Millie’s (Kathryn Newton, clearly having a lot of fun in the role), is one of those relentless mass murderers who is solely motivated by the act of killing, preferably with some kind of power tool. To have one of the characters so single-minded that they barely register the body swap is rather missing the point of the whole plot device.

Watch a trailer for Freaky.

Contributor

Wendy Ide

The GuardianTramp

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