The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
Freaky, originally rumored to be titled Freaky Friday the 13th, is perfectly summed up right there in those two titles. A freakishly bloody blast that reinvigorates the body swap idea into something satirical and surprisingly original.
Christopher Landon excels here. Clearly in his comfort zone after the Happy Death Day films, Landon knows how to make horror an absolute blast. Blending comedy in the horror genre can be a nail in a coffin for an ill experienced director, but Landon, after several tries over the years, has finally landed a prime example of what a horror comedy should be. Perfectly brutal and gory, the film isn’t afraid to embrace its R rating, and in fact celebrates it at every turn.
After a murderer attempts to kill a teenage girl with a mysterious artifact by piercing her shoulder, the two swap bodies. Causing a teenage outcast’s mind to be placed inside a middle aged killer’s body, while his demented mind occupies hers; a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In order to switch back, our lead is forced into retrieving the artifact and performing a counter ritual before the clock strikes midnight. This dynamic doesn’t seem like a concept that would really go over well, but its execution is handled with such care that it never comes off as over playing the roles and in fact feels like these two actually swapped bodies. Landon, alongside co-writers, has a knack for placing heart in a scene that in no way should represent the amount of passion it winds up displaying. Happy Death Day 2U was a cheesy sci-fi horror-comedy, but a scene involving Tree’s deceased mother had me welling with tears. While not to that extent, a scene between a teenage inhabited Vince Vaughn and the lead’s grief stricken mother provokes an unusual heartfelt moment that transcends from weirdly charming to oddly creepy. The script is fast paced and witty, as well as surprising, keeping us on the edge of our seat the entire way through.
FREAKY Is A Freakishly Bloody Blast
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Kathryn Newton takes a massive leap forward with Freaky, leaving behind her long running Supernatural run and misguided role in Detective Pikachu for greener pastures - a starring role. Newton is a perfect typical teen, but it's when she takes on the personality of a maniac that her true colors come out, and they are vibrant. I would have never chosen Vince Vaughn to play a killer in a film like this, but it works because his menacing rough exterior really conveys a killer with no limits, and when Vaughn begins to act exactly like our lead Millie, it's automatically convincing and hilarious. With two near flawless leads, what can hold the film back you ask? Under developed friendships and hatreds among fellow students at Millie's school. Don't get me wrong, Alan Ruck's Mr. Fletcher is that one guy you want to see get the axe, but it's the matter that he never has a reason for his harassment of the quiet Millie. Millie's friends, her family, and her love interest play a significant role in the feature, and while substantial to getting us to the closing credits, their level of involvement teeters back and forth between essential and fluffing the runtime. Vaughn and Newton more than make up for any downsides in the casting however, keeping the level of excitement, fright, and laughter up the entire way through.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
By far the weakest part of the film, Bear McCreary's score is overwhelming and makes the experience a harder one to have, with the score blazing while dialogue is happening. McCreary has a habit of doing this with films like The Babysitter: Killer Queen and Hell Fest being prime examples of where the score was just a little too much. The sound team however did an astounding job, making every kill just as gruesome through the ears as it is through the eyes. Song choices are always a high point of the film with the best coming at the film's close, similar to the closing of Happy Death Day 2U that left us with an absolute bop. The musical selection is fully appreciated, it's just the overall score that faults the verdict.
Freaky's effects are fantastic. With very little obvious CGI, the film feels like an old school slasher but with a twist. The gore effects are very effective, especially near the beginning of the feature and the choice to highlight the days going by leading to "Freaky Friday The 13th" was a brilliant move by director Christopher Landon. Landon has a modern tone to every film he's released since the first Happy Death Day, and I’m hoping for much more teen focused horrors from him in the future. As far as tone, he is making a name for himself similar to how John Hughes did with teen-centric comedies in the 80s.
Freaky is a devious twist on the body swap concept that we never knew we needed in our lives; while at the same time operating as a clever satire of the modern horror template. It's brutal, terrifying, hilarious but most of all an absolute riot.
FREAKY - ONLY In Theaters (11.13.20)