Freaky Trailer Breakdown With Director Christopher Landon

Happy Death Day director Christopher Landon talks us through the first trailer for Blumhouse body-swap horror, Freaky.

Freaky trailer launch
Kathryn Newton as The Butcher in Millie Kessler's body in Freaky, co-written and directed by Christopher Landon. Photo: Universal

It’s such a brilliant premise it’s almost impossible to believe we haven’t seen it before. Slightly dorky teenage girl is attacked by a serial killer but in the crucial moments a mystical intervention sees the two swap bodies. “It’s like Freaky Friday the 13th” director Christopher Landon explains, recalling the initial pitch from his co-writer Michael Kennedy. There seems like no one better to helm a high concept horror like this than Landon who made Groundhog Day-style slasher Happy Death Day – now the first trailer is with us.

While there were rights issues over that as a title, the shorter, cleaner Freaky works just as well. The first trailer is here and it sees Millie (Detective Pikachu’s Kathyrn Newton) body-swap with Vince Vaughn’s psychopath. The trailer promises laughs, a rather delicious revenge narrative and a whole lot of gore.

“I’m excited for people to experience the movie as a whole, because I think that it’s a really fun, thrilling ride,” says Landon. “I think they’re going to be surprised by a lot of stuff in this movie that’s not in the trailer. Both some of the violence and the kills, but also, there’s a surprising amount of heart. There’s this really special relationship between Millie and her two best friends that really shines in this movie. That’s one of the elements of the film that I really loved is that it’s really about the power of friendship as well.”

Landon talks us through the key moments of the brand new Freaky trailer.

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Blumhouse Logo Freaky Trailer

00.01 – Blumhouse Productions

“I think this is my ninth movie with Jason (Blum) and working with Blumhouse. We’ve got a long history and they are a very filmmaker focused company and filmmaker friendly. You get a lot of creative control, which is rare. The movie that ends up on the screen is the movie that I really wanted to make. That’s the real joy and the pleasure of working with them is that there’s a lot of support there. As long as you can make your movie for a certain price. I think that’s the challenge.”

Kathryn Newton as Millie in Freaky Trailer

00.05 – “That’s me, Millie

“I would describe Millie as a very shy, introverted girl. She’s lost her father recently, she’s really struggling to figure out how she fits into the world, she’s a caretaker and she often sacrifices her own joy in life at the expense of others. I felt like that was something that I really related to, and I think a lot of people can relate to that. That people give up on their dreams or give up on their hopes because they’re just constantly trying to please other people. I wanted Millie to really go on a very specific and a very articulated journey in this movie. When she inhabits a serial killer’s body she begins to learn things about herself that she never really saw clearly before. That was really the fun and the joy of making this movie. It was really going on this adventure with this young character that I related to.”

Bullying in Freaky trailer

00.07 – “I think I saw it at Discount Bonanza…”

“We really wanted to show that often the most terrifying things in life are the most real and the things that we all encounter daily. Bullying is one of them. I can speak again from personal experience growing up as a gay kid in high school. Sometimes just that walk down the hallway to your first class is like a gauntlet. That was something that we really wanted to explore in the movie, because so much of this movie ends up being about how Millie has to become a stronger person. Real world horrors are always, I think, a key element in my films. Teenagers can suck in a major way.”

The transformation in Freaky trailer

00.40 – The Transformation

“In the movie we introduce a mystical Aztec dagger. There’s a character in the film who’s an art collector and the knife is this ancient evil artefact that draws evil to it. When Millie is stabbed with it, this is the catalyst, this is what causes the body-swap to happen. This knife plays a big role in the film because once you’ve been stabbed and you’ve swapped, the only way to swap back is if you can stab the other person again. It becomes the catalyst and the story engine and the ticking clock of the movie. It was a lot of fun getting to create and design this particular weapon.”

The Murder Lair in Freaky trailer

00.49 – Welcome to the Murder Lair

“I wanted it to be the ultimate killer’s lair, in a way that’s a bit over the top, because there are points in the movie where we’re winking at the audience. In some ways it’s almost a parody of what the killer’s abode would look like. There’re severed heads and mutilated animals and mannequins that have been defiled. There’s a lot of stuff in there that I think are nods to old movies from my past that I watched growing up like Maniac, which is a really brutal horror film. That killer is surrounded by mannequins. For some reason mannequins terrify everybody. It was really just having some fun with those tropes.”

Vince Vaughn in Freaky trailer

00.52 – “I woke up in the killer’s body!”

“Genuinely, I had two people on my list that I wanted for this movie and it was Vince and it was Kathryn. It was honestly one of the first times in my career where I got both. Vince is a really big guy. He’s tall, he’s very intimidating, and he’s an incredibly versatile actor. He’s obviously known for his comedies, he’s incredibly sharp and funny, but he’s also someone who can play intense and scary and do that convincingly. I needed somebody like Vince who could really pull off both roles. He does it with such authenticity. I think that’s what works so well about the movie and why his performance is so good in the film, because he’s not playing cute or playing to the comedy of the film, he’s genuine all the way through.

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“In terms of preparation and getting into this stuff, both actors made video diaries. I worked with them to make these videos in character, so that they could share it with each other and begin to understand who they were as characters, their physicality, their mannerisms, the way they walk, et cetera. Then once we actually got into pre-production and I had the actors with me, we just started to sit and do a lot of rehearsals together so that they could really understand their characters physically and mentally.”

Chase in Freaky trailer

1.00 – “You’re black, I’m gay, we are so dead!”

“Michael and I tried to really employ the meta stuff very sparingly because we didn’t want it to overtake the movie, but we certainly thought there were appropriate moments to wink at the audience and remind them that we’re all in on this joke together.”

Cryo-chamber death in Freaky trailer

1.27 – Ice Cold Killer

“That was a cryo-chamber. We had been struggling for some time in trying to add a kill to this particular character in the setting that she had to be in. This was an idea that I came up with quite last minute. I initially thought, “Oh my God, this is, A, ridiculous, and B, really hard to pull off,” but I had to do it. I think it speaks to all of the deaths in the movie, which are really big, wild, gory, over the top deaths. I think each one is really unique. That was something that I really wanted to go for in this film, is just kill people in horrible ways that we really haven’t seen before.”

Revenge moment in Freaky trailer

1.45 – “I’ll make you wish your stupid face was never born”

“I’ve always loved blending comedy and horror, and I’ve grown up with that stuff, all the way back from Evil Dead and so on. I’ve always thought that comedy and horror make interesting bedfellows and work really well together. In this movie, sometimes the horror is just horror and sometimes the comedy is just comedy, but then there’s so many moments where they are happening simultaneously, which are really my favorite moments. I feel like it’s one of those things where you get to go on this wild ride when you are making the audience scream and laugh. For me, it’s just the perfect combination of a good time.

“There’s a definite revenge element to this movie that plays out very organically, because Millie, as a character, is bullied a lot and put upon by people at school. When the killer inhabits your body, these same people are still coming for her. They’re still trying to pick on her or bully her, but now they’re messing with the wrong person. I think there is a certain revenge fantasy that’s unfolding in this movie. I have to say, it’s weirdly satisfying because I think often the audience will be rooting for the killer.”

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Alan Ruck in Freaky trailer

2.18 – Wood Work Class

“I think everyone has had a teacher at some point in their lives that was particularly cruel. This character, Mr. Bernardi, who’s played by Alan Ruck, who is fantastic, he’s so good in the movie, but he’s the teacher that is quite abusive and he found a pretty unpleasant demise.”

Kathryn Newton with a chainsaw in Freaky trailer

2.37 – Chainsaw Massacre!

“It’s funny, Kathryn, she’s laser focused and such a professional, but I think this was new for her, having to really embrace this incredibly dark and violent character. Initially, in our rehearsals, I could feel her hesitation, but once we got going, she really moved past that and embraced it. Then I think she really finally started to enjoy it. She really got into it. By the time we got to that scene where she was using that chainsaw, she had come full circle. She was a killing machine. “

Freaky is coming soon to UK cinemas.