Starting off with a flick from the 70’s made me want to flash forward in the timeline to something a little more modern so we jumped all the way to 2020 with the Vince Vaughn terrifying take on a much freakier Friday than normal. This one was streaming on Freevee which is facilitated through Prime Video with a few well placed ads. I’ll admit, this is not my favorite way to watch a movie as ads tend to take you out of the momentum of a movie. Fortunately this movie is pretty middle of the road, despite it still bein a fun watch.
This is one of those movies that doesn’t take too many unexpected twists and turns so its a little easier to break the movie down without actually spoiling anything. The two main stars of the movie are Vince Vaughn and Katheryn Newton. Vaughn plays the lumbering killer known only as the “Blissfield Butcher” and Katheryn is the far more affable Millis Kessler. Millie is a standard high school student. In a way I would compare her main character to that of Jamie Briggs in “Not Another Teen Movie”. She’s an attractive but slightly quirky young lady who seems to garner an inordinate amount of ire from supporting characters. She’s the target of a bully and her “mean girls” posse. She’s gruesomely rebuffed by the jocks. Even her shop teacher, played by a Hulk Hogan mustached Alan Ruck, is overtly critical of Kessler to an unnecessary degree. Most of these are inflated so that when these characters are violently dealt with by Kessler in her swapped state, we cheer the violence on instead of abhor it. Vaugh as the butcher is a bit of a Jason Voorhees rip off with dull colored clothes and a mask bent on dismembering teenagers with considerable flair.
Vaughn’s character is introduced first as he hunts down some terribly obnoxious teens in the opening scene of the movie. He’s got a knack for creative execution and enjoys showing off his work. Chasing the teens throughout a mansion we are introduced to “La Dola” an ancient blade shrouded in mysticism that creates the body swapping incident necessary for the “plot” part of this movie to happen. Shortly after we’ve concluded our introduction to the butcher we get to know young Millie. Living at home with her widowed mother who copes via the bottle and older sister, who is dealing with the loss of her father by throwing herself into her work as a police officer. Kessler has hopes of college but seems to be letting the world pass her by as she does her best to be a wallflower. She’s ok missing her senior prom to attend a local theatrical production of “Wicked”. Nothing seems to be going right for Millie but she seems to be taking it all in stride. And then comes the confrontation.
Kessler, as the mascot for her high school football team’s fighting beavers, is left waiting for her mother after a football game, only to find herself in the crosshairs of the butcher. All alone, she’s forced to run from her attacker who happens to be armed with the aforementioned “La Dola”. After a short chase, Kessler is pinned by the butcher and during an interesting little vignette we see the butcher stab Millie in some sort of blood pact which ultimately swaps their spirits and bodies. Yes, this is when it’s ok to ask “You mean like Freaky Friday?” Hence the title of the film. Kessler wakes up first the next morning similarly to how she did in her introductory scene. However she plays off the fact that she is no longer the eternally optimist, Millie but a far more brooding character. She plays up the savage nature of her new role well and is quite convincing as a psycho killer now trapped in the body of an 18 year old girl. This is where you get a little more into the Rob Schnieder “Hot Chick” vibe than a straight “Freaky Friday” movie. But it still works well. To match her new persona, Millie can’t show up to school in the same Sandra Dee style garb with her demure demeanor in check. She’s gotta show up with far more edge with just the right amount of danger.
Cut to the nightmare fuel bedroom of the butcher. Now it’s Vaugh’s turn to show off his acting range by playing an 18 year old girl. He mimics how we see Millie in her introductory scene only she’s greeted with animal carcasses and terrifying mannequins in various stages of slaughter. Rising from her dirty mattress on the floor Vaughn is confronted with the reality that he, too is now in the wrong body. Or she is. Or, well whoever. He’s a girl now. But also in bursts a crazy homeless guy looking for drugs. Out runs Vaugh in a terrified state himself. Then we begin the back and forth as we catch up with our two main characters as they endure the beginning of their new day. Vaughn as Millie is on the run as his police sketch is seen all over town. Millie as the butcher makes a cool, slow motion entrance into school where she’s clearly not the plain jane she was the day before. In addition to her new look, her reputation for having survived the butcher and lived to tell the tale has made her a local celebrity. She appears rather off to her two best friends, Nyla and Josh. But they shake it off and go about their morning. Vaughn makes his way to the school to shower and then do that thing ladies do with the towel on their hair and wrapped around their body. You know, the thing. It’s in all the movies. He does that. But then he still puts on his grungy, nasty clothes again. This is where we get our first overlap of the butcher and Millie in their swapped bodies. The butcher has cornered her personal Regina George (seriously? have you never seen Mean Girls??) and dispatches her via a cryogenics chamber that happens to be at this high school. I suppose that’s a thing. It makes for an interesting first kill as Vaughn’s Millie finds her and frees her from this icy tomb only for her to fall out and smash into a bunch of little pieces.
From here things proceed as you’d imagine. People are chasing Vaughn thinking he’s still the butcher. The butcher now as Millie is going around taking out the people you wanted her to kill to get vengeance for the real Millie. Eventually Vaughn catches up with Nyla and Josh and is able to convince them he’s really Millie. From here we learn that if the two don’t stab each other back with the same knife within 24 hours then they are stuck like that forever. So we jump through the hoops we have to to get to the eventual showdown between the two of them. There’s a trail of bodies that are all conveniently killed by the butcher as Millie but in a way that when they switch back no one would actually accuse Millie of killing anyone. You knew it was always going to be this way because it’s not like the real girl should have to deal with the long and strenuous legal battles that would ensue from a series of grisly murders merely perpetrated by her corporeal self but instigated by the spirit of the Blissfield Butcher inhabiting her body at the time. There’s not really a cogent legal strategy to work that out so as one would assume they just write around that.
In the end the bodies get reverse, the douche bags get their comeuppance by being brutally murdered in particularly violent fashions, and the boy and girl end up together. We even get a little twist ending where the butcher comes back one last time but Millie, her mom, and sister all work together to put an end to his reign of carnal terror. So all’s well that ends well.
This isn’t a thinking movie. This is just popcorn fun. There won’t be anything that remotely surprises you but the fact that it’s still a fun watch is a testament to the product you get in the end. Vince Vaugh has a lot of fun playing a high school girl. And Newton’s range is significant in her ability to play a well rounded, albeit meek young lady who transforms into a crass, violent murderer literally overnight. They’re both fun to watch and there are a few sweet moments peppered in here and there that show a little growth in the family by the end of the movie. Most of the supporting cast was unknown except Alan Ruck, who still isn’t much of a household name. And despite the truly ugly nature of so many of the people that interact with Millie initially, everything seems relatively copacetic. The violence is pretty on par with most modern slasher flicks. It’s not over the top on gore but they don’t pull too many punches either. Having reached out to a few other movie connoisseurs who had also seen this film, they had similar conclusions with it. It’s nothing special but it is a fun watch. So if you find yourself in need of something you can turn on for a fun, modern romp through some pretty classic tropes, this movie is just as reliable as any others. If you’re looking for something to make you think or really scare you, this won’t be it. But it’s a good cotton candy kind of movie to cleanse the palate after watching something particularly harsh. Just think of it in those terms and you’ll be sure to enjoy “Freaky” this Halloween season. Until next time, I’ll catch you on the flip side.