Vince Vaughn runs like a teenage girl. News flash, right?
In the body switch horror comedy “Freaky,” he puts that rarely-seen talent (check out the touch football game in “Wedding Crashers”) to good use as a serial killer who switches bodies with a mousey high school girl.
When “The Blissfield Butcher” becomes meek high school mascot Millie (Kathryn Newton of “Blockers” and “Big Little Lies”), “she” becomes ravenously ruthless and murderous.
And he screams in fright, realizes “Standing and peeing is kinda rad” and scampers hither and yon with his-her hands in the air like a girl who who’s scared.
It’s “Freaky Friday” with a “Scream” twist. Throw a bunch of teen “types” in the path of a pathological killer, with each death meant to generate a laugh– whacked in a wine cellar, chopped in shop class, crushed by a commode.
Millie’s two BFFs, Nila (Celeste O’Connor) and Joshua (Misha Osherovich) get it.
“You’re Black, I’m gay. We are sooooooo dead!”
Millie, stuck in her Blissfield Valley Beavers’ mascot costume, waiting for her widowed wino mom (Katie Finnernan) to pick her up after the Homecoming game, sees the stadium lights go out and a hulking dude straight out of local urban legend marches toward her.
“Please don’t be The Butcher! Please don’t be The Butcher!”
It’s no use. But the murderer, who has slaughtered his way through a couple of Homecoming’s over the years, stole this collectible Mayan dagger. When he stabs her, their bodies switch.
She is he and he is she. If only they can remember that.
“PRONOUNS!” Joshua the gay kid is here to keep that “straight.”
Over the course of a long night, Millie needs to convince her friends she’s in “his” body, track down The Butcher, dodge her siste the cop and reverse the body-switch with the magic knife — that’s now police evidence in an attempted murder.
The bullied, sexless girl is transformed into an assertive bombshell, and the tall, middle-aged brute finds a sensitive side.
A couple of one-liners land in the first act, but the movie doesn’t start until Butcher/Vaughn starts running like a girl.
And truthfully, while he makes the whole “I’m really your meek, sweet friend Millie” thing funny, not much else plays that way.
A cruel shop teacher (Alan Ruck of “Ferris Bueller” cast against type), assorted jocks, bullies and a mean girl — who will face Millie’s revenge?
Director and co-writer Christopher Landon (the “Happy Death Day” films were his, and “Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”) doesn’t have enough jokes or amusingly murderous sight gags to make “Freaky” take flight.
Terror? Suspense? They don’t figure here, even with a “Butcher” on the loose.
What Landon and “Freaky” have is Vince Vaughn running and shrieking like a girl, and making eyes at the boy Millie crushes on. That’s not quite enough to make this movie’s “Freaky” flag fly.
MPA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, and language throughout
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, and Alan Ruck
Credits: Directed by Christopher Landon, script by Michael Kennedy and Christopher Landon. A Blumhouse/Universal release.
Running time: 1:41