Clam Jam

It’s impossible to pick between Vince Vaughn’s priceless turn as a teen girl body swapped with a 40-something male or the depraved, demented perfection of Freaky’s memorable slasher kills from Kathryn Newton. Both are hilarious, in two separate ways, that utterly gel with one another.

Freaky’s only disappointment is leaving one to focus on the other. Newton’s devilish turn as a serial killer doesn’t reinvent the genre so much as masterfully play on its tropes – Scream for a new generation. That’s what Freaky aims for, opening with kids around a campfire, saying the killer disappeared in the ‘90s, and giving them false security. High school kids now don’t worry about Jason Vorhees. Then the Blissfield Butcher pushes a tennis racket through their brains.

Freaky expertly jumps through comic absurdity, splatter effects, and modern social commentary

For Vaughn, he mingles with the stock players, a black girl and a gay guy, usually victims. Here’s an adult man in disheveled clothes wandering around a high school, and rather than killing his typical targets, he’s learning to pee standing up. As the panicked kids try to disassemble what’s happening, one is accosted for using incorrect pronouns. Not for misunderstanding someone’s preferred gender, rather for not keeping things in order based on which person is in which body.

To imagine even a year ago that blending ‘80s slasher cliches and body swap comedy would result in an intelligent, gleefully entertaining feature seems unworkable sans hindsight. Yet Freaky expertly jumps through comic absurdity, splatter effects, and modern social commentary regarding high school life. Newton’s turn as Millie begins idyllic, visual clues shattering the illusion. Then come the bullies, undoubtedly doomed, but making the heroes accepting, pure, and comfortable in who they are.

For the finale, Freaky employs the aggressive jocks, bending the trope to its own will, and then homophobia, showing zero tolerance for those refusing their identity. Other homages fail because empty explicit gore doesn’t work; it’s boring. Freaky finds meaning in each kill, and Millie – or the murderer in her body – shows signs she’s still in there given her choices.

With one scene after the supposed coda, Freaky nearly breaks itself by going too far, but even then, there’s purpose. Serenity returns as tragedy becomes a memory, a family reunited through violence because in a story like this, there’s no other way to unite people. Turns out that in smart scripts, introducing a poor sucker’s eyeball to a meat hook can aspire to something greater.

Video

Given a faux grain structure over the digital cinematography, Universal’s disc doesn’t handle things particularly well. Chroma noise persists over most shots, poorly resolved by the compression whenever the light dips. It’s better outdoors where light reduces the load.

Regardless, fidelity isn’t spectacular, only average. Textural qualities peek through lightly, enough to notice the stable resolution/sharpness and little else. Medium shots wane, primarily due to the messier encode.

Generally skewing warmer in the early going, flesh tones follow that pattern. Primaries too. Orange pushes close to an extreme. Passable black levels land only at a pale grade, the focus more on heavier contrast. Brightness spikes to a hefty high point, satisfying and pure. A black light haunted house sequence is crying for an HDR pass, but Universal kept Freaky on Blu-ray only.

Audio

Using the range of this DTS-HD track for frights, music stings slam into the low-end, nailing their shock value. Attacks from Vaughn lead to exaggerated boom, whether dropping toilet seats on victim’s heads or tossing them into walls. Subtle this is not, fantastic in bolstering the kills. When the body swap happens, powerful thunder leaves a mark. Nightmares afterward do the same.

Surrounds play with swirling voices. Stalker footsteps pan between the rears, fun in delivering precision and aiding the fear. For a 5.1 track, the soundstage works the available channels to successfully mimic something wider.

Extras

Coming first, a deleted scenes trio, running 5:27 in total. An EPK focused on Vaughn/Newton barely breaks two minutes. Another brief featurette EPK details the kill effects, the next another for EPK for director Christopher Landon. Then, a look at Newton’s character for a few minutes.

For anything meaty, turn to the commentary with Landon.

Freaky
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Introducing the slasher genre to a new generation, Freaky picks up where Scream left off to make sure these tropes remain relevant.

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