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HORROR

Freaky Review | A Killer Time

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Vince Vaughn playing a 17-year-old teenage girl is a casting choice that nobody would ever have expected. It’s something you’d never think you’d get to see but it’s glorious. Not only does Freaky indeed have Vince Vaughn playing a teenage girl but it’s also the absolute standout of the filmand it makes the film incredible entertaining and enjoyable.

The film puts a twisted take on the body-swap movie as it sees 17-year-old Millie Kessler (played by Kathryn Newton) swapping bodies with the terrifying serial killer known as The Blissfield Butcher (Vaughn). Millie is a quiet, awkward teenager who’s just trying to make it through high school when she gets stabbed by her town’s infamous serial killer’s mysteriously mystical dagger. The two end up swapping bodies and Millie (now trapped in Vince Vaughn’s body) has less than 24 hours until the switch is permanent and they’re stuck in each other’s bodies forever.

It’s a really great premise, it’s Freaky Friday meets Friday the 13th or Scream or pretty much any other slasher film. The reason why Freaky works so well and is such a good film is because it gets the blend of genres absolutely spot-on. It’s a horror-comedy but it manages to fulfil both of these genres perfectly. Very often when films try to straddle the line between these two genres it ends up falling very much to one side with it either being very funny but not particularly scary, or really scary but you’re not laughing at all. Freaky manages to land right in the middle.

It manages to be scary, it feels tense and it’s got some gory kills; exactly what you want from a slasher film. The opening scene immediately sets the rules and establishes itself as a slasher with quite a few brutal kills. But as well as the horror, it’s also really funny as well. There are numerous moments that will leave you laughing out loud in the cinema. Most of the jokes do come from the body-swapping and from the comedy that comes from a 50-year-old man trapped in a teen’s body and vice-versa.

All the jokes land thanks to Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton’s incredible performances. The two leads look like they’re having so much fun in their roles and they’re both so good and really make the body swapping feel so much more believable. It’s directed by Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day), and it does feel a bit similar to the two Happy Death Day films except everything’s been turned up a notch. The kills are more gruesome, it’s much funnier and it makes for a much more entertaining and enjoyable film. All the kills and the comedy land in just the right way and it all hits the mark so well that you cannot help yourself but be swept away by the film’s fun. It really is infectious and it’s so exhilarating.

It’s a furiously entertaining 100-minute thrill ride that’s begging to be watched over and over again because it really is just so much fun. The cast elevate this strong concept and fulfill its potential making it a joy to watch. The only slight problem with it is the ending. Whilst it’s not a bad ending, it feels almost as if it has two endings. Without diving into spoilers, the film reaches a natural conclusion but then keeps going for a little longer when perhaps it didn’t need to.

If you like slasher films and a good laugh it’s impossible not to love Freaky. It’s got kills, it’s got comedy and it’s a killer time. And of course, Freaky also has Vince Vaughn playing a teenage girl, something no other film has.

★★★★★

Freaky is released in UK cinemas on Friday July 2nd.

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HORROR

X | Official Trailer – A24

At a secluded farmhouse in Texas, a film crew arrives to shoot an adult film. Their hosts, a reclusive elderly couple, take a special interest in their young guests. As night falls the couple’s leering interest turns violent.

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Genre:

Drama, Horror, Mystery

Release Date:

March 18, 2022

Director:

Ti West

Cast:

Jenna Ortega, Mia Goth, Brittany Snow

Plot Summary:

At a secluded farmhouse in Texas, a film crew arrives to shoot an adult film. Their hosts, a reclusive elderly couple, take a special interest in their young guests. As night falls the couple’s leering interest turns violent.

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HORROR

Scream (2022) | Wes Craven Would Be Proud

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Scream has officially slashed its way into cinemas and brings with it a killer opening as Ghostface returns, serving up a self-deprecating meta buffet of a slasher sequel that relaunches with terrific terror and nostalgic scares which are bloody brutal. Scream has some big shoes to fill, the directors have to fill the shoes of horror icon Wes Craven, which they honourably do, and the screenwriters also have to honour the brilliance of Kevin Williamson and what he brought to this genre and his script for 1996’s Scream.

The fifth entry in the franchise is filled with references to the franchise’s past, movies of the past, present, sequels, remakes, and now Requel, which in itself is part reboot and part sequel. Scream also discusses topics, specifically horror films released throughout the 2000s to now as it’s very self-referential by using Halloween (2018) and Ghostbusters Afterlife, for example, showcasing that these franchises are making requels by setting the film in the same world, at a different time but adding new characters that are in ways related to the “Legacy” characters from the original. Scream knows that it’s a horror movie, and most importantly, it knows this fifth entry is no doubt a “legacy sequel”.

Twenty-five years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past. Neve Campbell (“Sidney Prescott”), Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) and David Arquette (“Dewey Riley”) return to their iconic roles in Scream alongside Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Sonia Ammar.

Years after the Ghostface killer first struck, teen Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) gets an ominous phone call, whilst home alone, from a stranger asking what her favourite scary movie is. Scream opening sequences are so iconic to the franchise and this new modern take doesn’t disappoint as Tara is attacked and stabbed multiple times by someone wearing the Ghostface outfit from the in-universe “Stab” franchise, based on the Westboro murders committed by Billy Loomis and Stu Macher. The opening is shockingly suspenseful and wholly entertaining. 

Paramount Pictures

The focus here is on a group of young people who certainly have seen enough “Stab” movies to know that the killer could be one of their own including Tara’s estranged sister, Samantha (Melissa Barrera) along with her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid), who returns to Woodsboro to be with her.

Paramount Pictures

In any sequel, you hope that the new cast doesn’t fall flat and ultimately works well with the returning cast. Take 2018’s Halloween for example with Jamie Lee Curtis returning brings a new generation of Strode women specifically Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter, showing the audience how well the newcomers mix with the legacy characters. Scream successfully achieves this as all characters are handled well, though the body count, unfortunately, rises as Ghostface has some new tricks up its sleeve.

In passing the torch to fresh blood, this fifth entry showcases that there are layers of meta to uncover, fresh scars, and wicked fun to be had. The highlights were Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Jack Quaid. All work to drive the narrative along with the help of Sidney (Neve Campbell), Dewey (David Arquette), and Gale (Courteney Cox). The legacy characters truly provide the nostalgia and emotional connection, the filmmakers treat these iconic characters with the utmost respect.

Scream lives up to its slasher roots as Ghostface goes to town with the hapless victims like a butcher skewing his meat. Characters are sliced, stabbed, and ultimately gutted with glee. They’re brutal when happening but gory and glorious for some. However, some kills have impacts attached as many are heartbreaking and some you want Ghostface to go to town on. I was on the edge of my seat, as directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett who both previously directed Ready or Not, know how to build tension especially with Brian Tyler’s haunting and eerie score that truly intensifies the film.

Paramount pictures

Scream is about deconstructing the genre and pop culture of the day and aims at filmmaking with killing commentary that’ll make you scream with laughter, whilst still containing the known tropes of a slasher movie. Its squeal-inducing traps and false alarms are so well-earned.

Overall, I believe Wes Craven would be proud of this movie and what it does for fans of the slasher genre. It strikes a visual cord with its toxic fandom commentary and provides a phenomenal entry to the 21st century of modern horror. It’s entertaining with laughter and brutal deaths as Scream continues to reinvent itself and still manages to remain a consistent franchise 25 years later since it started it all.

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Classics

Reel Recommendations: Possession – One Restoration You Do Not Want To Miss

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One of my favorite elements in the horror genre is taking a contemporary story and somehow implementing the genre’s core elements. Take the film Cure (1997) directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa; the film is about a detective who is investigating a series of grizzly attacks by a serial killer. On the film’s surface, it is your simple crime-thriller ala David Fincher’s Se7en (1995) or his 2007, Zodiac. However, throughout the film, the viewer gets inside of the mind of his victims in a psychological battle between light and dark; understanding the killer’s motivations and way of attack. Enough talk about Cure (1997), that is for another time.

I hold this element of the genre close to my creative heart because the genre does not always need a monster or killer or the loose, the genre is about set-up, execution, and the atmosphere in which those two elements listed are contained. If you are looking for more horror films like that, that are not about unstable detectives, look no further than Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession.

This 40-year-old lost film has recently been gaining a cult following and the film distributor Metrograph has graced film fans with a restoration. My thoughts on that are listed below the review.

Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill @ Possession (Andrzej Żuławski, 1981

Possession is a film about how division; division of two people who seem to be at odds and have fallen out of love for one another amidst the middle of the Berlin Wall, a division of communication between a couple and the affair that has brought them down as well as a division of body and state. Possession is about the breaking point between a couple as they’re in the very early stages of a divorce. They both have simply fallen out of love with one another and have started sleeping with other people, mainly Isabelle Adjani’s Anna. As Sam Neil’s Mark understands the situation unfolds, the more angry and sickly he becomes. There are points where he will look like he has not eaten in days and looks incredibly pale-skinned. There is a moment throughout the first 25 minutes where Neil is having a seizure in a cold sweat.

While Possession is a body horror in terms of visual effects, its a body horror from the performances given. We see both of the films leads reach sadistic and stomach-churning when it ocmes to range. The first half being dedicated to Sam Neil’s perspective of the situation and how he is treating himself during this change, where he goes from calm to physically abusive. Then as the story unfolds, Żuławski pays more attention to Adjani’s Anna, as an audiences we are opening the curtain to what she has been up to when the camera is not focused on her. The camera work works in one takes with very abrupt takes in its editing. Żuławski wants everything to feel like one fluid motion rather than have multiple takes for one single scene. The subway scene in particular roughly has about two-three takes and you do not evne notice because of how hypnotized you are to Adjani’s otherworldly performance. I am treading lightly on the plot due ot the genius of this film is to go in knowing nothing.

Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill @ Possession (Andrzej Żuławski, 1981

Possession is one of those horror films that were lost in time but recently have been gaining a resurgence through word of mouth and many clamoring for a Criterion blu-ray release, and for good reason. Possession includes some of the best performances I have ever witnessed with direction that is unpredictable and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. If there is one restoration you should have eyes on it is this one.

Restoration Review

Possession not only is a wonderful film but is also one of the best restorations I have seen recently. Metrograph elevates the horror film and at times looks like it was made from the last decade. The stark blue color pallette shines due to how cold and emotionally distant the characters are. The sound design is wonderful, every whisper is heard and understood, every scream feels like a scare, every tension-building moment plays like gangbusters. This is one restoration you do not want to miss especially for cult-genre fans.

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