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Reviews For The Uneasily Quarantined:

Title: Freaky

Describe This Movie In One All of Me Quote:

EDWINA: Shall I tap?
EDWINA: Tap ... tap.
ROGER: Thank you.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Serial killer and high school misfit swap bodies. Arterial spray ensues.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 4 packs of Southwest Airlines peanuts out of 5.

Tagline: "Basic switch. Killer new look."

Better Tagline: "Does this middle-aged counterpart make me look fat?"

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: High schooler Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) is dealing with a lot, including the recent death of her father and being ostracized by her peers. If that wasn't enough, local serial killer Barney Garris (Vince Vaughn), AKA the "Blissfield Butcher," has returned. But when a wacky mix-up involving an ancient Aztec dagger causes the two to switch places ... oh man.

"Critical" Analysis:
 The concept of the "body swap" in film isn't that new, dating back to the 1936 Boris Karloff movie The Man Who Changed His Mind. The theme itself is over 100 years older, having first appeared in the Mary Shelley short story "Transformation" in 1830.

Boring history aside, there's a certain (fearful?) symmetry to a concept introduced by the so-called "mother of science fiction" being used in Christopher Landon's Freaky as a means to subvert the otherwise stale slasher trope by putting the killer in the body of one of his potential victims, and vice versa[1].

It adds another layer to the usual anatomical dilemmas found in these types of flicks (many do involve men and women switching), as well as the prince/pauper aspect of the change-up[2]. As the dynamic evolves to hunter and prey, the proceedings are highlighted by the physical differences between the hulking Vaughn and the slight Newton.

Left to less talented performers, this could've been a disaster. And as perplexing as it might be to hear Vince Vaughn referred to as "talented," the movie hinges on his ability to channel a teenage girl, and he nails the turnabout[3]. Newton does fine, for her part, but doesn't have nearly as much heavy lifting to do.

Interesting that the Blissfield Butcher is as accomplished as he is at applying makeup, come to think of it.

Freaky has a strong Heathers vibe running through it, right down to the blue letter jackets worn by the rapey footballers. Ellie is more of a Martha Dumptruck than a Veronica, however, and while we obviously want Ellie and her friends to stop the Butcher before he/she kills again ... maybe not right away? Not until the mean girl and the asshole shop teacher and the aforementioned footballers meet their grisly demises, right?

Landon pulls off a deft tone switch, keeping things at a standard horror pitch until the swap moment, when things shift to more overt comedy. Even so, the kills are inspired, reminiscent of the best of the Friday the 13th franchise.

The only time the film slips up is at the "is he dead or isn't he?" ending, which is unfortunately by the book. Still, Freaky is a hell of a lot of fun, with canny generational humor and some truly inspired gore. As we near the end of the year, it's hard to imagine how many more surprises 2020 has in store for us, but awards consideration for Vince Vaughn might still be on that list.

Freaky is in select theaters now.

[1] Vice Versa (1987) - Judge Reinhold, Fred Savage
[2] The Change-Up (2011) - Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman
[3] Turnabout (1940) - Carole Landis, John Hubbard
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar