Published on February 9th, 2021 | by Dan Nicholls0
Freaky – Blu Ray Review
We take a deep dive (or a deep stab?) into the blu ray release of Freaky, a fun body swap horror comedy starring Vince Vaughn.
Universal Pictures (and its specialty label, Focus Features) was the one true warrior of keeping cinemas alive last fall. The fantastically fun Freaky, from co-writer/director Christopher Landon, had the makings of a crowd-pleasing hit – healthy doses of laughter, gnarly horror movie kills, it checked all the boxes for the makings of a good time in theaters that no one was able to see. Thankfully it has now found its way into our homes via physical and digital release so we can give it the due it deserves. Eating it up on opening night with a rabid audience is the way to go for movies like this but Freaky is good enough that you’ll stay constantly entertained even if you’re alone in your home watching it during the middle of the day.
Versatile young actress Kathryn Newton plays Millie, an unpopular high school student still reeling from the death of her father one year prior. A judgmental older sister and a mother with a drinking problem do little to ease her daily struggles and her best friends Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich) can only do so much in a school full of rude jocks and jerk shop teachers (characters set up to be ripe for some gleeful hacking and slashing). With life already sucking, the last thing Millie needs is to be stabbed with a mystical dagger by a deranged serial killer called the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), right?
It’s this magical stabbing that sets in motion a high concept body swap between Millie and the Butcher, which is what we came for. This Freaky Friday scenario has been done before of course but what matters is the spin that can be placed on familiar tropes. In this sense while Freaky might follow the predictable beats it’s wild and crazy enough to make the whole thing feel fresh and new. As Millie awkwardly navigates life in the Butcher’s body and the Butcher stalks Millie’s school like a teenage T-1000 you can’t help but get caught up in the fun of it all. Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton are clearly having a blast flipping their personas on screen and it all contributes to an enjoyable energy that the entire picture rides upon.
Not unlike the first Happy Death Day from director Christopher Landon, Freaky has a smart handle on the familiar trappings of both comedies and horrors. This appreciation, love, and respect for the two genres successfully helps create a hybrid melding the two distinct personalities into one package. There isn’t much to excavate or ponder over after the credits roll and that’s just fine sometimes – an amusement park ride of thrills just needs to entertain you nonstop, not challenge you with intellectual puzzles. Freaky, by those standards, is about as triumphant as you can get.
It’s unfortunate that such an enjoyable movie has a rather undescriptive title, but I imagine there’d be lawsuits involved in the more appropriate Freaky Friday the 13th had been slapped on it. Putting Freaky out into the world first with a theatrical release and now a traditional home video release also makes it feel like the type of “real Hollywood feature” that we have so rarely received over the past year. It has the feel of a movie that would’ve been a hit, and it’s worth now giving it the chance you might’ve missed before.
Freaky is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and for digital download on all your favorite platforms. As always, I’m a proponent of the physical version and the Blu-ray disc is as solid as one would expect from a reliable Universal Pictures release. The bonus features contain:
– Deleted Scenes: We’re given three scenes that were wisely deleted from the finished product. “The Butcher Lends a Hand” features Millie imagining the Butcher’s presence while she’s resting in the tub following the initial stabbing. It would’ve added nothing to the proceedings at all and just stood in the way of getting to the good stuff. “Charlene Hears a Rumor” is just Millie’s sister getting a phone call at the police station with a tip about an underground homecoming party the local kids are throwing – it’s hard to imagine why they filmed this moment in the first place, needless to say it’s pretty worthless. The last deleted scene, “Late for the Party” is actually really funny (Josh’s unreliable shitheap of a car won’t start so our heroes have to Uber to the climactic homecoming party to confront the Butcher) but ultimately would’ve stopped the flow of the excitement and energy dead in its tracks. Still, of the three, this would’ve been the one to keep if you had to pick one at all.
– Split Personalities: Millie vs. The Butcher: This is a standard-issue featurette focusing on the working relationship between Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton, including how they got on the same page about how they each wanted to represent Millie and the Butcher. Sounds like it was fun for them to get two roles in one, and they both seem really enthusiastic and positive about the experience. We need to see Vince Vaughn back in more comedies again!
– Final Girl Reframed: A slightly more thoughtful than average featurette about honoring and upending one of the horror genre’s most timeless tropes.
– Crafting the Kills: This featurette has too many interviews and clips and not enough time dissecting how they made the practical effects happen, although a solid minute and a half or so does dive into the gory bits of one particularly memorable murder involving a table saw. It’s that type of content that we could’ve used more of here, to be honest. I would’ve loved to learn more about that gnarly “wine bottle down the throat” kill from the opening scene.
– Christopher Landon’s Brand of Horror – a puff piece for the co-writer/director of the film, it makes for a somewhat uncomfortable couple of minutes as Landon himself praises his own ideas and process and other interviewees heap on the praise too. I’m sure he’s a great guy and obviously did a good job here but doesn’t give you the directorial dirt you’re digging for. That’s best left to…
– Director’s Commentary – Here’s where Christopher Landon gets to talk the process of making the film. Unsurprisingly, it sounds like everyone was a pleasure to work with the set was a blast to be on. That comradery and friendly energy comes through in the final product,