REVIEW: “FREAKY” (2020) Universal Pictures

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“FREAKY” gives us another run from Director Christopher Landon from “Happy Death Day” fame. In fact, he repeats the formula by merging the slasher genre again with another exploited trick that we’ve all seen in many previous films throughout the years: the old switch-a-roo of bodies. Some of these have been magically good, some not so much as they truly all depend on the timing, actors and just a twist of originality at their core.

It starts with a stereotypical slasher scene right after a discussion about the towns “Blissfield Butcher” myth, that is told every year at Halloween throughout this small town high school scenario. No one thinks the story is real until of course it is. Our very own ‘Blissfield Butcher‘ is actually a very real serial killer played by Vince Vaughn, who after stabbing a 17-year-old Millie (Kathryn Newton) with a mysterious Aztec knife, sees their bodies exchange and Vaughn becomes a high school girlNow Millie must try to not only convince her two best friends Josh (Misha Osherovich) and Nyla (Celeste O’ Connor) and to somehow go unnoticed all the while controlling this gigantic new body she has. Meanwhile the Butcher totally enjoys his new body by being able to infiltrate an not only the school, but initiates a party outside of town when the Homecoming dance is canceled – full of potential victims. To stop the spell, the teenage version of Vaughns’ Butcher character must stab her original body again with the exact knife within 24 hours or remain forever trapped in each others bodies – oh the drama!

The question the is inevitable brought up is “Does this have some originality to it or at least enough to make it interesting?” Sure it can if you disregard some of the very basics here such as the quote of “You’re black, I’m gay. We’re screwed!” that Josh shouts out, or the very bloody graphic gory deaths, most especially of Wood Shop Teacher (Alan Ruck) who for some reason seems to pick on Millie only for the fact that she isn’t one of the popular kids. Or the fact that to top it off, she is the school mascot. It could go on some, but in all honesty, it feels like it’s has it’s originality because Vaughn goes back into some of old school, most fun performances here. Newton is good for me, but her droid-dead stare like performance when she is in ‘serial killer’ mode just didn’t do it as much for me.

All in all, it’s just fun and in true form, entertaining and that folks is all we are looking for right now, fun entertainment.

Grade: C+

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Review screening: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“FREAKY” IS OUT FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2020 IN THEATERS (WHERE OPEN) & DRIVE-INS

REVIEW: GRINGO (2018) STX Entertainment / Amazon Studios

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Over the past few years, Nash Edgerton has bounced – possibly literally – between being a top-notch stuntman and a career as a burgeoning director. After a stack of shorts and a 2008 feature The Square, co-written with his more famous sibling Joel, he now steps things up with “GRINGO”, a comedy-thriller-esque type movie that looks sharp in the trailers.

With brother Joel Edgerton on board as one of the co-leads, Richard Rusk – alongside Charlize Theron as his co-conspirator Elaine Markinson and David Oyelowo as the trusty but naive, Harold Soyinka what you have here is a south-of-the-border caper with blood, guns and medical marijuana. As the film opens, crooked business partners Richard and Elaine – post-boardroom bonk – get a call from their Harold, screaming that he’s been kidnapped in Mexico.

That’s just the start – or rather the mid-point – of a twisty amoral adventure where no one is to be trusted and most are to be feared or so they like you to be – but you’re not. Flashing back and forth, the film fleshes things out..sort of. In the process of ditching their Chicago pharmaceutical firm to a conglomerate, Richard and Elaine are looking to cut ties with one of their more shady partners in the business of manufacturing medical marijuana.

Harold, the only good guy amid this nest of ever growing scumbags, and yes, even his wife Bonnie – played by Thandie Newton – is doing the dirty on him with no less that his own boss and supposed friend, Richard. Harold gets wind that he’s going to be out of a job and this is when he realises that his employers couldn’t care less about the fact he has been kidnapped, he sets out to turn the tables. But little is straightforward in a dense plot that also ropes in Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway as tourists and Sharlto Copley as a mercenary with a conscience.
Double-crosses, cases of mistaken identity… just trying to keep up and make sense of what’s going on at this point, leaves you out of sorts with a plot that really isn’t going anywhere. The script is guilty of trying way to hard, to go into sub-Tarantino area – and completely not succeeding in this endeavour.

Performances vary: Theron’s foul-mouthed act wears thin very fast and honestly, I thought she would be a lot funnier than she was, Edgerton passes you by again, not speaking in his own voice (I’m really so very over this Joel), but Copley provides a few live wire moments. Oyelowo isn’t known for his comedic turns and you will see why here with a mostly blah performance with one or two ha! ha! moments by him. While it’s a pity talents like Seyfried and Treadaway are just a weird almost background note here, as their characters almost seem as if they were given something to do, they would be funny. This is one of those films where the trailer shows you all the fun, best moments of a film that’s not terrible, but very easy to forget.

Grade: C-
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Media Review Screening: Friday, February 23, 2018 ~ Courtesy of STX Entertainment
GRINGO will be release nationwide & UK on Friday, March 9, 2018 ~ Worldwide release throughout Mar/Apr