The Best Horror Movies Starring Vince Vaughn
Vince Vaughn first started working as a television actor in the late ’80s, but he broke through as a star when he appeared in the 1996 comedy “Swingers” alongside his real-life friend Jon Favreau. The movie proved to be a hit, in part thanks to Vaughn’s motor-mouthed, critically acclaimed performance as the confident Trent. After “Swingers,” Vaughn made a string of films such as “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Domestic Disturbance.”
Yet Vaughn’s greatest talent was arguably comedy, and his career broke out when he found a place in the “Frat Pack” of comic actors. Between 2001 and 2006, Vaughn had some of the biggest hits of his career when he made gross-out comedies like “Old School,” “Starsky & Hutch,” and “Dodgeball” with Will Ferrell and/or Ben Stiller. “Wedding Crashers” alone, co-starring Owen Wilson from “Hutch,” made nearly $288 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo).
Vaughn since then has come back to smaller films like “Dragged Across Concrete” and even returned to television acting, including a major character on “True Detective” Season 2. But did you know the actor also has a small collection of horror roles in his filmography? Here are the horror films that have taken the best advantage of Vaughn’s charisma.
The 1998 remake of Psycho was a huge flop for the young star
When Roger Ebert asked Gus Van Sant why he made a nearly shot-for-shot remake of “Psycho,” the “Good Will Hunting” director memorably told him that he did it so no one else would have to (via The Hollywood Reporter). However, Ebert as well as other critics and the moviegoing public, likely wanted him to spare the effort. According to Senses of Cinema, Van Sant later insisted the film was an experiment that wasn’t meant to be a hit, but the 1998 remake of the Hitchcock horror classic still bombed at the box office and with critics.
Vince Vaughn played Norman Bates in the new film. Vaughn’s generally more imposing appearance, and the fact he stands 6-feet-5-inches, made him a stark contrast to the boyish, smaller Anthony Perkins, who portrayed Bates back in 1960. Despite the unusual casting though, Vaughn was considered miscast by critics. Empire Magazine wrote that the then-28-year-old actor “just seems too wholesome and beer boy to convince as a nerd still tied to Mother’s apron strings.” His next horror part would be much more successful.
The Cell placed Vaughn and Jennifer Lopez inside the mind of a killer
Released in 2000, “The Cell” used strong, surreal imagery to delve into the mind of a serial killer. This time Vaughn got to play one of the good guys, FBI Agent Peter Novak. After killer Carl Stargher (Vincent D’Onofrio) goes into a coma, Novak persuades social worker Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) to use a virtual reality device to enter his mind and find the location of his last victim. The task proves more arduous than it seems, however, and soon, Catherine is put at risk of being trapped in Stargher’s mind forever.
“The Cell” was a success at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo, but received a mixed 45% Rotten Tomatoes rating from critics, who praised the imagery while questioning the muddled plot. At the time of release, The Guardian wrote that “jazzy photography and fancy design in no way compensate for a dull, suspense-free screenplay and unwise casting.” In the 20 years since, however, the film has been championed by newer reviewers for its excessive style and strong set-pieces.
Freaky features a hilarious and scary Vaughn performance
Directed by Christopher Landon, best known for the “Happy Death Day” series, the 2020 film “Freaky” is a highly unusual take on the body swap genre that combines “Freaky Friday” with the classic slasher film formula.
When high schooler Millie (Kathryn Newton) is attacked by local killer the Blissfield Butcher (Vaughn), the ancient magic dagger the Butcher uses accidentally switches their bodies. The next day, the Butcher wakes up in Millie’s body, while Millie’s mind is stuck inside the physique of a tall, middle-aged serial killer. As the Butcher, posing as the teenager, wreaks havoc, the real Millie has to figure out how to get her body back and avoid getting killed herself.
“Freaky” already boasts a lot of inventive horror deaths but also happens to be an extremely fun, sweet comedy. Both Newton and Vaughn are hilarious and very convincing playing both an anti-social monster and a vulnerable young girl, with Vaughn especially scoring laughs as Millie starts to like feeling strong and tough while in the Butcher’s large, intimidating frame. The movie just might have the best performance of Vince Vaughn’s horror career thus far.