For die-hards, no horror movie can be too scary. But for you, a wimp, the wrong one can leave you miserable. Never fear, scaredies, because Slate’s Scaredy Scale is here to help. We’ve put together a highly scientific and mostly spoiler-free system for rating new horror movies, comparing them with classics along a 10-point scale. And because not everyone is scared by the same things—some viewers can’t stand jump scares, while others are haunted by more psychological terrors or simply can’t stomach arterial spurts—it breaks down each movie’s scares across three criteria: suspense, spookiness, and gore.
This time: Freaky, the latest from Happy Death Day director Christopher Landon, in which Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn switch bodies. It’s basically Freaky Friday with a Friday the 13th twist, as Vaughn’s character is a serial killer.
Freaky’s jump scares are front-loaded into its first sequence, which involves a group of teens being slaughtered by Vaughn’s character, the “Blissfield Butcher.” After that, while there’s enough dramatic irony that you may want to occasionally yell at the screen, it’s all to do with characters recognizing or not recognizing who is who—there’s nothing that you won’t see coming from a mile (or at least a few feet) away. Altogether, the suspense is more on the level of a teen movie than hardcore horror.
If you’re familiar with Happy Death Day, imagine that volume of gore but supersized from a PG-13 to an R rating. Freaky has a lot of heart, but it is still a slasher, and the kills are pretty gruesome. Bodies get dismembered, blood splatters everywhere, and even though there’s just enough of a sense of movie magic for you to know that what you’re watching isn’t real, that doesn’t make the Butcher’s kills any less gross in the moment. There’s a full-on vivisection, a freeze-and-shatter kill à la Snowpiercer, and a wine bottle shoved down (and broken in) a throat, among other grisly scenes. Mercifully, you’ll always have a pretty good idea of when to look away if that degree of carnage is too much for you.
When the credits roll on Freaky, there aren’t really any loose ends, and the gore mentioned above isn’t so affecting that you’ll be thinking about it long after the movie’s over. If anything, what you’ll remember from the movie are the scenes in which Vince Vaughn really nails capturing a teen girl’s anxious energy—you’ll be less likely to feel haunted than, as Vaughn puts it, “hashtag stresscited.”
Freaky’s overall scariness lands at a perfect register for people who can’t stomach most horror but still want to find an entryway into the genre, as its main aim isn’t to scare viewers but to take them on a rollercoaster ride that also happens to involve a few puncture wounds. Again, anything that might squick you out too much is hinted at early enough for you to cover your eyes before it happens, and everything else leans further toward heartwarming than Temple of Doom–style heart-ripping.
For more on Freaky, listen to Sam Adams and Karen Han discuss the movie on Slate’s Spoiler Specials podcast.