The horror-comedy Freaky released in theaters recently opened to critical acclaim and a healthy box-office showing. The movie takes the age-old Hollywood concept of a body swap leading to all kinds of hijinks and puts a horror spin on the premise when high school student Millie swaps bodies with a notorious serial killer known as the Blissfield Butcher. In an interview, the film's director Christopher Landon revealed why Freaky is like a twisted Disney movie.
"[Freaky] required [an R rating] because, I think conceptually, if you're going to put a serial killer in a shy, co-dependent, wallflower-y girl's body, then you need to pay that off. And I think that doing something that was PG-13 and bloodless, I just think you would lose the impact of it. I've described this movie to people as sort of being like the goriest Disney movie never made because body swap movies are cute. They're always cute. It's cute as a concept. And so, I wanted this to sort of have this big bucket of blood dumped on it."
Freaky stars Vince Vaughn as the Butcher of Blissfield, who swaps bodies with Millie, played by Kathryn Newton. This is not Landon's first directorial rodeo with a story that walks the razor's edge between horror and comedy. The filmmaker is also the brains behind another recent classic in the genre, Happy Death Day, and its sequel. While those movies managed to scrape by with a PG-13 rating, Landon knew he had to bring the blood and gore for Freaky like never before.
"[Freaky] was different than Happy Death Day. Happy Death Day for me was a no-brainer in terms of making that movie PG-13 because conceptually again, we were always sort of leading up to the moment of Tree's death, but it wasn't about seeing what happened to her after or during it. And so, that was an easy one to do PG-13. I actually think it's better that we did it PG-13. And there are certain movies that I think, they should be PG-13! Why would you need to make Tremors R? Why would you need to make Poltergeist R? Gremlins R?"
The rating for movies that feature gore and violence but are geared towards a family audience has always been a subject of hot debate. When Poltergeist debuted in 1982, audiences instantly knew they were watching a horror classic that would continue to haunt the nightmares of viewers for decades to come. Yet the film was miraculously rated PG. As far as Landon is concerned, he is glad he went for an R-rating for Freaky from the start to do justice to its central premise.
"Nobody wants to see a PG-13 Evil Dead. So Freaky was one of those movies that just felt like we would be betraying the concept of the movie if we didn't go for it."
Featuring Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Celeste O'Connor, Misha Osherovich, Katie Finneran, Uriah Shelton, Dana Drori, and Alan Ruck, Freaky is open in select theaters nationwide. Collider brought this news to the world first.