This time, though — despite a bright palette and intrepid performances — the blueprint feels a little tired. The smutty humor and high-school setting (complete with mean-girl posse and snarky-smart gay friend) are as familiar as Millie (Kathryn Newton), the lonely heroine in love with the handsome athlete (Uriah Shelton). They’re seniors at Blissfield Valley High, and if Millie’s mascot costume (the football team is the Beavers) doesn’t make her pitiable, then her dead father and sauced mother will.
And that’s before she encounters the infamous Butcher (Vince Vaughn), an impressively productive killer with apparently decades of slicing under his belt. Stabbing Millie with a recently acquired Aztec dagger, the Butcher inadvertently causes himself and his intended victim to exchange bodies. They have 24 hours before the switch becomes permanent.
Written by Landon and Michael Kennedy, this genre-straddler gives throwaway characters inventively messy ends and its two leads the freedom to experiment. As the swappers settle into their new forms, Vaughn and Newton prove remarkably effective at selling the benefits of their alternate packaging. Their efforts, however, are too often diluted by the film’s lazy plotting and Millie’s hackneyed emotional baggage.
But what do I know? Maybe sometimes it really does take a serial killer to heal a damaged family.
Rated R for termination by tennis racket, toilet seat and two varieties of saw. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. In theaters. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.