Fright Night

12 Sep

Title: Fright Night
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Craig Gillespie
Writer: Marti Noxon, based on the story by Tom Holland, based on the original film and screenplay by Mr. Holland
Starring: 
Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette
MPAA Rating: 
R, bloody horror violence, and language including some sexual references
Runtime: 
106 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 
75%

At first I didn’t know what to really think about Fright Night, I certainly wasn’t of the opinion that the 1985 needed any sort of remake or rehash, but then I saw the trailer and it actually looked like this movie could be a really good time. And so I went to see the actual film with an open mind and I found myself really liking it. I just thought it was super smart in how it approached it being a remake, I thought it had some very funny moments, and I thought the gory stuff in it was just stylishly done in the greatest of ways, not to mention it had in Anton Yelchin, one of my personal favorite young actors, a very good lead to carry it through, and in Colin Farrell and David Tennant it had two supporting players who really knocked it out of the park here.

Really, as vampire movies go, this one truly is a very good one, and part of how good it actually is comes from how self-aware it is about itself, it really made fun of itself at times in way that didn’t feel gratuitous at all but that just really nicely added to the overall effect of the style it wanted to have. Another thing this film gets awesomely right is the use of its location, Las Vegas. Not the Las Vegas strip, mind you, with the neon lights and buzzing casinos, but instead a suburban housing development in the desert, just a lot houses and streets surrounded by nothing but desert, just a great image of an isolated suburban oasis in the middle of nowhere. That setting works so well because it looks like a perfectly normal sort of place, but also one in which some really crazy things could very well happen and, if they did, one that’s so isolated from everything else that the rest of the world probably wouldn’t notice.

And that’s, you know, kind of exactly what happens here. Our main character here is Charley Brewster, played by Mr. Yelchin, a high school teen who lives next door to Jerry, the character of Mr. Farrell, a single guy, handsome and charming and rather mysterious, too. Since my generation has been exposed to vampires like crazy as of late, thanks to Twilight and True Blood and some other less-famous (though many times better) attempts to get our vampiremania going, Charley and his friend Ed, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, are sensitive to the signs of a vampire. Charley however isn’t aware of them as Ed is, as he’s busy dating a girl who’s probably ‘cooler’ than he is in his school’s social ladder, and Charley’s mother doesn’t see anything off either about her new neighbor, being too busy admiring how handsome the guy is.

As a hardcore Whovian it was great to see David Tennant in this one, as Peter Vincent, this sort of Criss Angel guy who has a headlining act at a Vegas casino and claims to be an expert at vampires, and he’s awesome in the role, just adding a lot of fun to the whole movie experience. The one person who actually makes more out of his role than Mr. Tennant is Mr. Farrell himself, who you just can tell had a ball at playing Jerry, and he really rocks this role of a monster who has learned that the best way to get his victims to like him and thus get close to them is to play it like an ordinary guy, to be just way flat, when inside it’s all a game of manipulation. The stuff Mr. Farrell brings to the role is tremendous, his delivery of lines combined with just the way he looks at the other characters is pretty fantastic.

I won’t go too much into the plot, there are some things that are just too cool for me to spoil here. I’ll just tell you that it’s a very well-crafted film, the production design is really great, the prosthetic make-up looked terrific, the art direction was done by Randy Moore, who did The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and it was top-notch, and the cinematography by veteran Javier Aguirresarobe, who has worked on the likes of The Road, The Others and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, really did make the most out of the locations and environments here. And then there are the script and direction, both of which I really thought worked well here. The screenplay was written by Marti Noxon, who knows her vampires from years as a veteran writer on the staff of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and really knows how to mix in the fun with the scares. And the direction was in the hands of Craig Gillespie, who did the terrific Lars and the Real Girl and the recently-cancelled United States of Tara over at Showtime (Toni Collette, the lead on that show, plays Charley’s mother here), and he does some very good stuff here, really knowing how to craft the shocks and the action in this one.

I really recommend Fright Night whole-heartedly, it was just pure fun to be had at the theater. The performances are all really good, if you’re a Whovian you’ll have to watch it if only to see David Tennant in such a big and fun role, and Colin Farrell adds to his collection of crazy characters he’s played this year after his turn in Horrible Bosses by giving the film’s standout performance as Jerry. As for the 3D of it all, well, I’m obviously a big detractor of the technology, mostly because it makes everything too dark, and considering this film had a lot to do with scenes during nighttimes and in dimly lit rooms it suffered because of that, and I still recommend to seek this one out in regular 2D, but at the very least all the stuff this one throws out at you, mostly blood and some other icky stuff for shock purposes, isn’t that distracting and is at times proper witty, so yeah, it made some of the great shots Mr. Gillespie came up with look a bit messy, but it could have been worse. And even if this was a remake we didn’t really need, it was still incredibly fun, and considering the remake/reboot/prequel/sequel/threequel/fourquel movie world we live in, that’s more than good enough.

Grade: B+

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