No Bliss In Blissfield: Freaky
Many believe that the stories of the Blissfield Butcher are urban legend. Four Blissfield teens get their final lesson that he is not in Freaky. After dispatching his young victims at the home of one of them, the Butcher (Vince Vaughn) takes an ancient knife called La Dola. It is a collectible weapon which had been encased in glass for collectible purposes. The Butcher now looks for new victims, and targets high school student Milly Kessler (Kathryn Newton) as the next one. After a football game, she eschews a ride home with her friends Nyla (Celeste O'Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich), calling her police officer sister Charlotte (Dana Drori) for a lift. As she waits, the Butcher appears and pursues. He wounds Milly with the knife before Charlotte arrives. Charlotte takes Milly to the hospital, where she's treated and released. The Butcher, however, makes his escape without his weapon.
The next morning, Milly starts acting differently. Her mother, Coral (Katie Finneran), notices, but says little. Nyla and Josh do notice when they pick her up for school, as she fails to recall certain details about herself. When they separate to go to their classes, Milly starts killing the people who annoy her, as many are prone to doing at her school. The Butcher makes his way to school and tracks down Nyla and Josh with a surprise for Milly's friends. It turns out the powers of La Dola switched Milly and the Butcher while they slept. Once convinced this has happened, the teens approach a Spanish teacher with information about the knife, and learn that the changes that affected Milly and the Butcher must be undone within 24 hours, or they become permanent. As the body count rises, Nyla and Josh sequester the Butcher and hatch a plan to take La Dola from the police evidence locker.
Freaky is an entertaining mix of comedy and horror from director and co-writer Christopher Landon (son of Michael), whose previous credits include involvement in the Paranormal Activity and the Happy Death Day movies. Freaky reminds me a bit of the 1988 film Vice Versa, where Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage touch a magical skull. It puts each in the other's body as they try and make the best of the situation and attempt to reconnect with the object of their transformation. The attempted murder of Millie adds a serious element to this body switch film, as well as the race against time. As bad as her life can be at school, Millie doesn't want to live in the body of a killer. Landon compensates for a predictable script and some logical flaws with a bit of creativity with a good sense of humor about the situation.
Vaughn and Newton turn in fine lead performances. The Butcher is certainly scary in his element, but he's just as good when Millie occupies his body. He gets the best laughs when he does one of Millie's mascot cheers in order to convince Nyla and Josh of the body switch that took place. The Butcher has the size to be physically imposing, but that size also gets laughs as the teenage girl inside him calls for attention. In that state, he also gets the attention of Booker (Uriah Shelton), a boy for whom Millie had written a poem. Newton, whose big screen credits also include Lady Bird and the Landon-penned Paranormal Activity 4, shows a unique growth experience as Millie, who kept to herself before her encounter with the Butcher. The switch requires that she no longer keep to herself, but fight to switch again. When the Butcher occupies her body, she looks and behaves tougher than she ever had. In her Butcher phase, she spells trouble, and the look in her eyes tells viewers the Butcher likes this element of surprise. The support performs nicely, including Alan Ruck as a strict and unpleasant wood shop teacher.
Blissfield clearly doesn't live up to its name during the course of Freaky. A killer is on the loose, and found a good cover. A knife with special power provided that cover, but the girl in the killer's body doesn't want to spend the rest of her days that way. All she has to do is survive a second encounter with the town's most infamous resident.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Freaky three stars. Millie Kessler has a memorable day.
© 2021 Pat Mills