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Body swap movies are usually fantasies about being inside the “wrong” body – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing: in the horror comedy Freaky, a High school student finds herself trapped in the towering setting of a middle-aged male serial killer and discovers she gets a lot out of it

The latest film from Blumhouse Productions (the mini studio that brought you Get Out and BlacKkKlansman) stars Vince Vaughn (True Detective) and Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies) – actors whose physical contrast underlines the difference in sex and age between them

Newton plays Millie, a young woman who mourns the recent death of her father and is bullied at school

Learning lessons is a frequent theme in body exchange films; whether it’s mothers swapping bodies with their teenage daughters (Freaky Friday) or kids swapping bodies with their elders (Big), the characters tend to learn empathy – but they’re generally happy to come back. to what they were

Inside the killer’s body, Millie feels an unknown sense of physical strength and empowerment “A little bad ass”, she describes it

The trade-off is that she looks like “Blissfield Butcher”, a psychopath who has terrorized his peaceful suburb for decades

“Never underestimate a straight white man’s propensity for violence,” someone says in the film’s prologue, a line that foreshadows the film’s critique of gender, power, and violence

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In the bloody scene, brimming with the puritanical anxieties of American horror about sex and youth, four teens kissing and getting drunk by a swimming pool meet a grizzly bear at the hands of the butcher

This is the first glimpse we get of Vaughn as a distinctively male horror villain: powerful, cruel, and unaffected. But that threat is soon completely reversed when he discovers an ancient ceremonial dagger with mystical powers that allows him to swap bodies with his next victim.

Enter the hapless Millie, whose transformation into a grown man is like Kafka reimagined by John Hughes – with a touch of Jerry Lewis

Who would have thought that Vaughn would be able to channel the mixed emotions and insecurities of a teenage girl so well? There is the upward inflection at the end of his sentences, the tendency to scream in the face of danger, and running with waved arms

It’s a laugh-worthy performance, but there are also deeper emotional notes in the sensitive storyline, co-written by Michael Kennedy and director Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Happy Death Day)

Freaky is a heartbreak movie – how he puts the brakes on Millie’s life and destabilizes her mother Paula (Katie Finneran) and her police sister (Dana Drori)

It’s also a riff on the themes of high school movies from the 80s and 90s, in which teenagers from the outside stand up against cruel peer groups and suffocating adults (a cry to Alan Ruck by Ferris Bueller as a pretentious carpentry teacher here)

After some comical and desperate explanation, Millie manages to convince her two best friends Josh and Nyla (Misha Osherovich and Celeste O’Connor) that she is trapped in a man’s body and needs their help to reverse the transformation

Their quest has the tumultuous momentum of a caper movie – race and time trial – with the Butcher, now in Millie’s body, on the tail and killing people along the way

When the scene finally arrives where the characters come face to face with their old selves, it’s clear that Millie is a little impressed. It’s like seeing each other after a radical makeover, full of a self-confidence that she doesn’t recognize and wearing a red leather jacket that she wouldn’t normally expect to take off

Director Freaky spoke to Jason Di Rosso about the body swap genre and the work behind movies like Paranormal Activity

Body swap movies explore the fantasy of gender transformation since the genre began The 1914 film A Florida Enchantment portrayed a lovingly frustrated socialite who transforms herself and her maid into a pair of girls. ‘men who spend a lot of their time flirting with women

Hal Roach’s 1940 comedy Turnabout told the story of an unhappy married advertiser and his wife swapping bodies

In Freaky, Millie expresses her wonder and amusement at the male body she now inhabits, especially her peculiar new appendage (yes, there is a toilet scene) But the transformation also allows for more thoughtful explorations

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In the film’s only romantic scene, Vaughn is chatting with Millie’s (Uriah Shelton) crush in the back of a car and you can almost see desire molecules ricocheting between them Landon is listening to the bizarre dimension of the moment, which he captures with the tension of one fell swoop and ends with a kiss For a moment the two characters forget – or don’t care – Millie is in Vaughn’s body

In the scene where Millie crosses paths with her mother while in the Butcher’s body, the two have a brief conversation about grief and parenthood, which forces Paula to believe that she is talking to a unknown She ends up saying things to her daughter that she has never had the courage to say before

It’s an honor to Landon that Freaky manages so many ideas and pulls them evenly

It’s not easy to overlap the heartfelt sentiments and the more ironic, playful scenes of the film, but it handles the changes in tone with a skillful touch

There’s a lot of fun in Freaky’s gore, but the twists and turns to softer emotions provide an inspired contrast

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World News – AU – Vince Vaughn plays serial killer trapped in teenage girl’s body in horror comedy Freaky