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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Freaky is a slasher flick/body-swap comedy starring Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn. It acknowledges and has fun with horror-movie clichés -- in other words, teens who drink, have sex, and bully others are definitely getting murdered. And those deaths seem to revel in being over the top: There's lots of gore, and weapons include household items, chainsaws, and even cursed knives. (When guns are used by the police, it feels like the movie's tamest form of violence.) There's no cutting away from any of this splatterfest -- indeed, there's usually a close-up of the gory wound. It's intentionally campy and outrageous, meant to make viewers recoil while also laughing in shock with friends. Language is really strong ("c--t," "f--k," and more) and sometimes crude ("c--k," "p---y"), and includes a rape joke made by a character who's intended to be likable. Characters have sex (non-graphic), kiss, and drink, and one character with a substance dependency seeks to buy drugs. Amid all of the mayhem are messages about teamwork, strength coming from the inside, and true friends staying by your side no matter what.
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What's the story?
In FREAKY, Millie (Kathryn Newton) is an awkward high schooler who's struggling through her senior year when she becomes the latest victim of serial killer Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). But rather than die, Millie switches bodies with her middle-aged slayer, who, in turn, is caught in her teenage body. High school hijinks, mayhem, murder, and some real freaky stuff ensues. Director Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day, Paranormal Activity) is behind this dark slasher comedy.
Is it any good?
Vaughn steals more than a body in this snarky, over-the-top mashup -- he steals the whole show. He takes on the lightness of a teen girl with aplomb in a fun, fresh take on what had become a tired genre: the body-swap comedy. His performance is somewhat similar to Jack Black's in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle -- and it's equally hilarious. When mid-swap, Vaughn -- as Millie -- makes a romantic connection with her crush, it's absurdly and hysterically touching. Alas, the same can't be said for Newton. Once she becomes the serial killer, she stalks around with a hardened stare. It does the job, but given Vaughn's familiar physicality and vocal tics, it's disappointing that she doesn't take the opportunity to truly "become" him. (For inspiration, she could have turned to the 2003 Freaky Friday, where Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan gleefully nailed each other's mannerisms and speech patterns.)
Freaky's dialogue really gets a kick out of itself. It's a snark buffet, including naming the ravaged town Blissfield and its high school football team mascot "the biting beavers." While that might elicit a snort of appreciation, its not quite as clever as intended. The sweet spot is really in the campy, ridiculous deaths. The serial killer is imaginative and resourceful, using whatever he finds around him to murder teens -- including a toilet seat. Blood spurts, splatters, sprays, and gushes so unbelievable that it becomes farce. It's a wacky film that's full of gasps and squeals: your own. To get the most out of it, watch with a friend, or even better, a room full of them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Freaky acknowledges the clichés of both slasher films and body-swap comedies. How does it compare to both? What other genres would you like to see mashed together?
How does the film upend traditional gender roles? On the other hand, did you notice characters playing into stereotypes? Do stereotypes work for this type of film?
How does the violence in Freaky compare to other horror films? Because this is a comedy, do you think the violence has the same impact? Were you scared or grossed out?
How do Millie and her friends demonstrate teamwork? Do you think they should have gone to an adult?
Families can also discuss how Millie is bullied, including when she finds the writing on the bathroom wall. What can be done to counteract cruel behavior?
- In theaters: November 13, 2020
- Cast: Kathryn Newton, Vince Vaughn, Alan Ruck
- Director: Christopher Landon
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Character strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, and language throughout
- Last updated: December 17, 2020
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