Horror comedies can be kind of hit-or-miss; they either work extremely well or the comedy can fall flat when blended with horror. Happy Death Day and Happy Death Day 2U are examples of horror comedy done right. Directed by Christopher Landon, both films successfully mix horrifying moments with hilarity and clever writing, and Landon’s new film, Freaky, proves that he is a master of horror comedy. Written by Christopher Landon and Michael Kennedy and directed by Landon, Freaky utilizes creative nods to other horror movies, in-your-face gore, and perfect comedic timing to tell the story of a teenager that switches bodies with a terrifying serial killer called the Blissfield Butcher.
Freaky stars Kathryn Newton (Paranormal Activity 4, The Society) as Millie, a high school student who has a run-in with the Blissfield Butcher, played by Vince Vaughn (True Detective, Brawl in Cell Block 99), a serial killer who has been terrorizing the city. The Butcher acquires a knife that possesses magical abilities, and when he tries to make Millie his next victim, he inadvertently causes the two of them to switch bodies, leaving both in a bizarre predicament. Even more terrifying is the realization that if Millie doesn’t find a way for them to switch back to their correct bodies in 24 hours, she will be trapped in the Butcher’s body forever. Spotlighting insanely impressive practical effects, witty writing, and fantastic performances from Newton and Vaughn, Freaky is the most fun I’ve had watching a movie this year.
Dread Central was delighted to have the opportunity to talk with Kathryn Newton about Freaky, working with Christopher Landon and Vince Vaughn, and a lot more. Read on to find out what we talked about!
Universal Pictures will release Freaky in theaters on Friday, November 13th.
DC: You starred in Paranormal Activity 4, so Freaky isn’t your first horror movie. Why did the role of Millie appeal to you and how was making this film different from your previous experience with horror?
KN: Well first off, I was so excited to team up again with Christopher Landon, who was the writer on Paranormal Activity 4, and be in the Blumhouse family again. I was just dying to work with him again. I loved making that movie and I learned so much as an actor. When Chris told me about my character and I read the script, I just thought it was so smart and funny and I wanted to play the Butcher. I was so drawn to playing the Butcher, it was so out of my comfort zone. With this movie you don’t know how it’s going to turn out, you don’t know until you kind of get on set the first day.
I met Vince my first day of rehearsal, we had dance rehearsal, and I immediately felt that this was going to be an amazing movie. Everything just fell into place and getting to play two characters in the same movie was a dream for me. To answer the second question, on Paranormal Activity 4 I learned so much about how horror films tell a story, in the smallest ways, without any dialogue, it’s just all in your eyes. I love in horror films how the audience is ahead of, like the scream queen sometimes, the audience knows what’s going to happen before the characters in it. In Freaky, I really don’t talk that much as the Butcher. I don’t have that many lines but it’s on purpose. That’s what I love about horror films, it’s about the tension and how you build all of that, so I took a lot of my experience from Paranormal Activity 4 to this set.
DC: That is what I was going to ask you about next, not only your character not talking a lot but first, what was it like working alongside Vince Vaughn? Did the two of you do anything special to make sure you were mimicking each other’s characters? You both are so believable, so good.
KN: Thank you so much, that’s what you hope for. I think we all wanted to be on the same page and tried to create a foundation, and that started with Chris. We had our rehearsals, and it was amazing to hear Vince talk about Millie, because I learned so much about the character from him. So, to have that kind of collaboration was mind-blowing. You never get to create a character with another actor, it’s always you and the director. Vince made it a fuller experience. I can’t wait to do it again, to get to share the character with another person on a film again because I was able to bounce ideas off of him, like what do you think Millie would do in this moment, how do you think the butcher would kill this person, and that was so cool.
Vince was brilliant, I mean I think my best moments in the film are when I have scenes with him because he’s the master of comedy and I’m just a fan of his. He created a collaborative environment where everybody was able to be free, we were all improvising, and when he would improvise it would just make me better, so I learned a lot from him and that end scene was on set too, so we kind of captured it and I think you feel that when you watch it. There were a lot of things that weren’t planned, like the crying scene, when I’m crying to them. That wasn’t in the script, but I was inspired by watching Vince be hilarious. I was like, “I want to be funny, what can I do that’s funny?” So, you come up with things, you inspire each other.
DC: I’m a big fan of the Happy Death Day movies so I wanted to know have you seen them and what was it like working with Christopher Landon on this film?
KN: I’m a huge fan of the Happy Death Day movies, I think they’re brilliant at mixing comedy and horror. Jessica Rothe is so good in that movie, she kills it, she carries that movie. I follow her on Instagram and obviously, I know Chris and you can see the love between them. Christopher is such an amazing human; he just brings the best out in you and you can see that in Happy Death Day. I think that’s why they are such a huge success. Being on that set, I bet it was so much fun, just like working on this was so much fun, it was just a joy being on that set every day so yeah, I love that movie. Happy Death Day is hilarious.
DC: Freaky has a lot of blood, some crazy gore, and practical effects, which I love. What was it like filming some of the bloodier scenes?
KN: That was when it got really fun. When I got the movie Chris was like, “Are you down because we’re going to get bloody?” And I said, “Of course! You have to be down to play.” When you sign onto a movie like this you know some fake blood is going to be involved. There was so much blood on set, I was covered in blood every day I think, for sure. My favorite kill was probably the chainsaw because I just liked everybody’s reaction after the scene, because I would be covered in blood and holding a chainsaw. It’s just exciting to see people react to me that way, because I’m such a like lame grandma in real life, so it was nice to be scary. Also, when you do that scene, every scene after that I had to be covered in blood the same way, it was just insane, it was fun.
DC: I love the effects and all the crazy kills in this movie, it’s so much fun. I wanted to ask; do you have any funny behind the scenes stories that you can share?
KN: Of course, let me think of really good one. One of my favorite days on set was my scenes with Alan Ruck, he is amazing in this movie and we are so lucky to have him in it. We had some crazy stunts in that scene, there was a lot of fighting and piggyback riding, so that was really fun for me. I got to hang onto a chain and push him onto a table and cut him in half. That was pretty exciting. This movie also had some superstitious stuff happen on set. I think we wrapped on Friday the 13th, and all the lights went out that day. We had to leave and come back, and I just thought that was kind of special. Whenever things like that happen and everyone is kind of serendipitous, it’s like magic, not scary, just like magic, so this movie had some magic in it as well.
DC: What are you planning on doing next, anything you can tell us about?
KN: I can’t say I have any more movies coming out like Freaky. I don’t ever in my whole life think I’ll ever do a movie like this again. I have The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, which will be out at the top of next year, that is like the antithesis of Freaky; a romantic, lovely, fantasy movie. It’s not scary at all. I do have some other stuff, but I really can’t talk about it yet. You know that’s the thing, when you get an opportunity like Freaky, you could have never thought of doing a movie like this so who knows what’s next, you know?