Tag Archives: Alan Ruck

Blumhouse’s Freaky

Okay so imagine Freaky Friday but instead of teenage Lindsay Lohan swapping bodies with her mom played by Jamie Lee Curtis it’s teenage Kathryn Newton swapping places with a serial killer played by… Vince Vaughn, of all people. Also just take Friday out of the title and you’ve got Freaky, a super fun, super R rated, whip smartly written horror comedy that is one in a reliable assembly line of stuff being put out by Blumhouse lately. I don’t want to imply that this is just a horror knockoff of Freaky Friday because it’s fiercely it’s own film and has genuine innovation and creativity behind it, starting with casting Vaughn as someone who has to convincingly act like a flustered teenage girl for almost ninety minutes. Let’s just say he succeeds scarily, uncannily well at doing that. An idyllic small town has been home to serial killer The Butcher for years, and one night after infiltrating a Manor filled with ancient artifacts he pinches an old bone dagger with mystical Aztec powers. After stabbing shy high school girl Millie with it, they suddenly wake up in each other’s bodies unwittingly the next morning and cause quite the dose of confusion. Millie is stuck inside the hefty, 50+ year old body of Vaughn, while The Butcher is trapped in petite, blonde Newton and everyone else has no idea what the fuck is happening. It’s a wild concept and they milk it for all it’s worth and then some. The real draw is seeing Vaughn act like a flighty teen and he hits the mark squarely, giving some of his best comedic work in years and clearly having so much fun in the tole. Newton is great too, she gets to rework the Millie character in the killer’s eyes and do this ‘dangerous dark chick’ thing with her wardrobe and mannerisms and get proxy payback against some of the folks who make her high school existence hell including a horde of rapey jock douchebags, a yappy little gossip whore who spreads cunty rumours about her and the world’s most abusive and obnoxious woodwork teacher played by (!!!!) Alan Ruck, who was Ferris Bueller’s homie and I totally didn’t recognize until I looked up the cast just now. The tone of the film is kinda slight overall and never too serious but it doesn’t feel watered down, glossed over or too lame and PG like a lot of teen horror these days, this baby owns it’s hard-R rating loud and proud. There’s a galaxy of very clever and *severely* profane dialogue, some surprisingly mature, sweet and intuitive social satire and relationship dynamics as well as a bunch of extremely gory and downright impressive kills that involve an array of scenarios including table saws, chainsaws, spears, kitchen knives, and an entire *intact* wine bottle fully shoved down some poor bastards throat and *then* smashed, which is a new one for the genre. There’s also a Jason X shoutout kill involving a literal cryo-freezing chamber and I found myself wondering what the hell would would one of those things be doing in a high school, like.. is that some weird American thing? Anyways, if you like your horror fast, furious, super bloody, smart, a smidge self aware and have always had an innate desire to see Vince Vaughn as a hormonally hysterical teenage girl, this’ll be your bag. One of the coolest flicks this year.

-Nate Hill

Jan De Bont’s Speed

“Pop quiz, hotshot!!” Most action films are comprised of beats, wherein there are exciting sequences and then lulls in between to catch our breath and collect ourselves, but the beauty of Jan De Bont’s Speed is that as soon as the central premise is delivered to the narrative, pretty much every beat is action, the concept airtight in terms of any breathing room creeping in, and that’s one reason why I think it’s endured as a such a classic in the genre.

Dennis Hopper plays yet another wild eyed lunatic here, and it’s scary to think that his mad bomber Howard Payne was once a decorated LAPD officer. He’s now a very pissed off ex police officer who has gone psychotic and started blowing shit up all over the city, attracting the attention of daredevil super cop Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves). Howard gets elaborate when he decides to rig a city bus with a device that will blow it the fuck to bits of the driver slows down past fifty miles per hour, and from then on in the film barely stops to grab a coffee, take a piss or collect its thoughts. Howard masterminds the whole deal from a secret surveillance lab, Jack races to board the bus and defuse the bomb and intrepid civilian Annie (Sandra Bullock) takes over the wheel after the driver has a heart attack. Reeves and Hopper play off each other like flint and steel, it’s a hero villain smackdown for the ages between a rock steady officer of the law and a probably once great detective who has lost his mind but none of his wily nerve. Keanu and Sandra also have great romantic chemistry too but it’s underplayed and sort of seems natural, which isn’t always easy to pull off. Throw in Joe Morton, Beth Grant, Glenn Plummer, Alan Ruck, Hawthorne James, Richard Schiff, Veronica Cartwright and scene stealer Jeff Daniels as Keanu’s charismatic senior partner and you’ve got one hell of an ensemble.

This was one of the first R rated action cookouts I was allowed to see (hell, I think I even saw it before Die Hard) and it still blows my mind as much today as it did back then. The stunts and set pieces are all unbelievable and so kinetically explosive its a wonder that talented cinematographer Andrej Bartkowiak could keep his lenses following them. Everything with the bus on freeways and overpasses is extraordinary (that heart-stopping bridge gap!) but don’t even get me started on the balls out underground subway crash that blows the lid off any sound system it touches. A classic.

-Nate Hill