Cinema: how can a body-swap slasher movie be such fun?

Freaky, Cineworld Cinemas, (15), (102 mins)

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 7:05 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd July 2021, 7:12 pm
Freaky
Freaky

“What on earth just happened there?” says one of the characters towards the end. Well, to be honest, she doesn’t exactly say “what on earth.”

But she’s got a point. How on earth could something potentially so tasteless as a body-swap slasher movie end up such an enjoyable waste of 102 minutes?

The answer, of course, lies in Vince Vaughn’s performance as a bullied, slightly drippy teenage girl – not exactly the role you’d cast him for... which is, of course, precisely the point.

He’s brilliant.

Before that, he’s The Butcher, the serial killer who has been terrorising Blissfield for years… until the night he misguidedly nicks a cursed knife and even more misguidedly plunges it into his latest teen who promptly becomes him.

Or at least in spirit. While remaining The Butcher in all outward appearance, in an instant he is 17-year-old Millie Kessler, a girl who desperately needs a bit of back bone (though maybe not quite in the way he is providing).

The poor thing. You can imagine her horror – and also delight – when she needs a wee… Yep, it’s that kind of film.

And in that same moment The Butcher becomes Millie.

Millie (Kathryn Newton) – while still looking like Millie – is invaded by a spirit of a killer who can’t think of anywhere else he would rather be, suddenly given carte blanche to wander around a school full of potential victims (most of whom have been mean to her… or it is him?)

Newton is great in the role, visibly toughening up as the bullied girl becomes the bully, but really this is Vaughn’s film, and while the film maybe just sags a little in the middle, at his best Vaughn is hilarious – not least in the toe-curling scene in which the boy Millie adores realises he adores her back even if she has now got the face of a mass murderer. Their lips move towards each other…

It’s Freaky Friday with tons of gore, decapitations, impalings and even a slicing in two. And yet somehow, it’s rather more fun…