3 out of 5 stars
(Warning: Review and trailer contain mature content)
Audiences may remember Jodie Foster / Barbara Harris or Lindsey Lohan / Jamie Lee Curtis as the daughter/mother pairs who do the body swap for a day in Freaky Friday. Disney’s comedic adventures that eventually led to the life lesson of living a day in someone else’s shoes. Now, think of this concept in the hands of Blumhouse productions team who turn the life lesson into a bloody affair. The comedy of the original story remains, but this horrific version involves a serial killer and one of his latest victims.
During the homecoming season at Blissfield Valley High School, there is an urban legend that comes with the festivities surrounding the football game and dance. Rumours continue to spread about the infamous serial killer known as the Blissfield Butcher who targets teens within the community. He has never been caught and most of the townfolk dismiss his existence as mere folklore. That is until a series of murders that involve four high school students occurs two days before the big game on Wednesday the 11th.
As the news spreads across the campus and throughout the small town, Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) and her friends contend with their problems and do not give it much thought. Until the night of the big game, when the young teenage girl is left waiting for a ride at the football stadium and becomes the next target of Barney Garris (Vince Vaughn). Cue the horror music and the chase is on across the stands until the killer gets his hands on the terrified teen. The twist for The Butcher is that he is unaware of one minor detail. The knife that he took from the previous night’s killings is cursed which leads him and his victim to switch bodies before he was able to murder Millie. After this supernatural event occurs, we are left with a freakish combination of comedy, horror and teen angst for the remainder of the film.
For fans of the previously mentioned Freaky Friday movies, it may seem obvious, but this is not a Disney comedic venture. Not to say that it is not hilarious, because Vince Vaughn manages to deliver some of the funniest bits of dialogue in years. Still, it is hilarity wrapped up in a no-holds-barred slasher film that would make Jason (Friday the 13th) and Mike Myers (Halloween) wince, if you could see their eyes.
Blumhouse Productions have managed to take the standard teen killer movie and provide a bit of ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ amongst the blood bath. Everything about the horror is predictable and gory, but it is Vaughn’s performance that lifts this tale of terror above the stock standard of this genre. Kathryn Newton does her best to manifest the spirit of Vaughn’s character and her friends add the needed comedic support to push this pedestrian screenplay to stand above others within this film category. Yet, it is Vaughn’s portrayal of a teenage girl that grabs the full attention of the audience. Otherwise, this would be another stock-standard murderous rampage at the local high school.
If horror is your schtick and you would not mind a bit of comedy added in for fun, Freaky provides that bloody combination. For those followers of the Freaky Friday franchise, this one may be a film that you should give a miss. Dust off the DVD of your favourite Disney version and enjoy a night in, just make sure the front door is locked.
REEL DIALOGUE: Do we have anything to fear?
What is the appeal of horror films? Many fans surveyed have stated that the attraction of this genre is a good scare with the knowledge that by the end there will be a positive outcome and a potentially happy ending. The expected tension of this type of film, beyond the comedy is that The Blissfield Butcher is the embodiment of pure evil and the expectation that most of the characters are going to die gruesome deaths at the hands of this person. The only thing that possibly makes this bearable is the inclusion of a heroic saviour figure to balance out the evil. Millie’s suffering and innocence provides a counter to the vicious nature of Barney Garris. Regardless of which body they may inhabit at the time.
For many in the world, their lives can be a reflection of a horror film. Despite the degree of pain experienced by each person in this world, one thing that can bring solace is that mankind also has an advocate and saviour to rescue us from evil through the person of Jesus Christ.
The story of the Bible tells us that sin has caused mankind to fall out of relationship with God and into the horrific hands of eternal death. However, Jesus’ death on the cross has meant that we can be restored in our relationship with God by trusting in His death on our behalf, which leads to eternal life.
Want to find out more? Check out one of the biographies of Jesus: Luke