‘Freaky’: an homage to the teen slasher genre


Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“Freaky” tells the story of a girl trapped in a serial murderers’ body and pays homage to the teen-slasher genre. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

“Happy Death Day” (2017) director, Christopher Langdon brings a fresh take on a beloved teen horror genre with his newest film, “Freaky.” Structurally presenting something that breaks conventional horror tropes, while still giving a clear admiration for teen horror and coming-of-age films, this film provides a balance that translates beautifully on screen.

Langdon’s newest work unfolds with a few high school cliches; a girl, Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) is a social outcast aside from her two friends, Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Joshua (Misha Osherovich). Besides being a conventionally attractive and “normal” teenage girl who gets bullied, one other gripe about the setup is that while O’Connor and Osherovich’s characters provide most of the film’s diversity, I still think it would’ve been interesting to see a non-white “final girl.” However, the way the film plays with gender and power dynamics is something that gives it a refreshing feel.

Following the story of Millie after switching bodies with a local serial killer, “Freaky” takes a playful approach to a slasher film. With Newton’s character being trapped inside an adult man’s (Vince Vaughn) body, and vice versa, there are a handful of fun moments that make it a horror movie with a lot of personality.

Newton is phenomenal as a girl with a mass murder living inside her, and she delivers a strong sense of empowerment and female revenge, as well as some of the film’s most memorable lines. She’s great as Millie in the beginning of the film, but it’s even more fun to see her character switch drastically into a murder-driven teenage girl.

The film also heavily brings out some themes of gender performance and gender dynamics, and I think both Newton and Vaughn present issues of gender dysphoria in a tasteful way. Specifically, Vaughn’s character reveals candid moments of someone feeling physically out of place in their own body. There’s even an interesting scene with him and a male love interest that is done not as comedic relief, but as a genuine intimate moment between two people.

Some of the most prominent aspects of the script itself are the homages to slasher films throughout the past four decades. While taking place on Friday the 13th, “Freaky” also seems to take inspiration from classics like “Scream” (1996), “Jennifer’s Body” (2009) and even “Heathers” (1989); which create the makings of a “Film Twitter” — Twitter’s online film community — classic.

The allusions to other films make it a fun experience for anyone fond of dark teen movies, and also make it clear that Langdon is a fan and a director. These references also create what feels like a viewer-director relationship, which I think is something really special that not many horror movies do.

I would absolutely recommend a “Freaky” viewing to anyone who is a fan of the slasher genre or as a perfect night-in movie.

Rating: 4.5/5

Danielle Kessler can be reached at [email protected] or @reserv0irpups on Twitter.