Movie review: Freaky
There is something about body-swop comedies that never gets old.
But the most entertaining ones are those with sex switcheroos, such as Rob Schneider's The Hot Chick and Jack Black in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, where popular high school hotties find themselves in a less-than-attractive, middle-aged man's body.
The laughs - cheap and otherwise - automatically keep coming with every fish-out-of- water scenario.
From writer-director Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day, the Paranormal Activity franchise) and horror powerhouse Blumhouse Productions, Freaky - no relation to 2003's Freaky Friday - delivers a twisted take.
Not only is the classic format mashed up with the teen slasher genre, one of its two main characters is a hulking, cold-blooded and robotically relentless homicidal maniac known as the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn).
Meanwhile, petite, sweet and mousy Millie (Kathryn Newton) is just trying to survive the cruelty of the popular crowd in school.
Vaughn is clearly the MVP here, as the 1.96m-tall 50-year-old actor hilariously channels his inner teenage girl and appears game for anything, nailing the mannerisms, movements and speech patterns.
From the moment the hex takes effect and the "Butcher" wakes up in his terrifying carcass-filled lair and screams at his reflection in the mirror, it is all systems go for a bloody good time.
Millie now looks like a towering psychopath who is the target of a city-wide manhunt, and the humour comes when she tries to convince her best friends of her true identity, or adapt to "her" body parts.
On the other hand, Newton has less to do in terms of performance. The Amber Heard lookalike simply has to throw on that sexy and magically transformational leather jacket - a la Olivia Newton-John's Sandy at the end of seminal 1970s teen flick Grease - and glower and lumber her way through, but she is hardly menacing.
When the Butcher realises Millie's female form is the perfect cover, "he" brings "his" appetite for carnage to the homecoming dance and goes on a rampage Jennifer's Body-style.
Freaky's horror tropes are very much alive and well, dutifully and predictably going through the motions when it comes to plot machinations.
The graphic detail and gore of the kills is one-upped, involving wine bottles, toilet seat covers, tennis rackets and a table saw at a woodworking class. All ridiculously over-the-top and cartoonish even, but disturbing if you are no gorehound.
Still, for a good ol' scary-fun time at the cinemas, Freaky slays.
STARRING: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton
WRITER-DIRECTOR: Christopher Landon
THE SKINNY: When a mystical ancient dagger causes a notorious small-town serial killer (Vaughn) to magically switch bodies with a 17-year-old high school girl (Newton), they have 24 hours to reverse the curse before being permanently trapped in their new forms.
RATING: NC16 and M18