Friday, August 19, 2011

Frighteningly Good

FRIGHT NIGHT
Directed by CRAIG GILLESPIE
Starring ANTON YELCHIN, COLIN FARRELL, 
IMOGEN POOTS, and TONI COLLETTE

Ok, I'm the first one to admit when I'm wrong and I was very wrong with regard to Fright Night.  If you refer to my recommended links you'll find my scathing take on the new Fright Night film.  I was sure that this was going to be yet another abominable remake, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Fright Night stuck to it's guns and in a post-Twilight world, Jerry the vampire (played flawlessly by Colin Farrell) isn't lovelorn or moody.  He's heartless, predatory, and a tad bit alluring.  The new Fright Night takes the best portions of the original film and amps it up.  Written by Buffy alum, Marti Noxon, the re-imagined Fright Night flies at a quickening pace and the thrills start right away. I would note that Marti also wrote the screenplay for the atrocious I Am Number Four, but this time she gets it right.  No doubt her Buffy experience came in handy.

Unlike the original, the new film is set in Las Vegas, not small town America.  The change in venue immediately creates a contrast to the previous film.   It makes sense, as many Las Vegans have vampiric schedules-- they work all night, sleep all day.  What better place for a vampire named Jerry to "live?"  Additionally, the claustrophobia of suburbia adds to the ambiance of the film.
Colin Farrell as Jerry the Vampire
The overall premise is the same: Jerry the vampire moves next door to Charley Brewster, a curious and resourceful teenager (Anton Yelchin of Star Trek) and his mother played by Toni Collette.  Surprisingly Jerry doesn't stand out, as blacked-out windows and nighttime living are the norm in this city.  But Charley's friend, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) knows better.  In this version, Ed is the one who discovers that kids have gone missing and there's something not quite right about Jerry.  One thing I did not like about this movie, was the diminished role of Ed.  Ed was an integral part of the previous film, but this film is much shorter and faster paced than the original, so I guess it's understandable that Ed's role was shortened.  Ed's role was essentially that of the "town crier," but despite Ed's warnings, Charley continues to go about his life with his beautiful girlfriend, Amy (played by Imogen Poots).  Imogen adds slightly more to the story than Amanda Bearse did in the original.  Her character is candidly written and adds just enough romance to the story not to be bothersome.
David Tennant as Peter Vincent
Without giving away any spoilers, one can see from the movie trailer that Charley eventually gets wise to the situation.  So what does any clever, frightened, kid with a vampire living next door to him do?  He visits Peter Vincent of course.  Peter Vincent is the not-so-shy local vampire hunter and star of "Fright Night," which is a Vegas magic show extravaganza.  Roddy McDowall played Peter Vincent in the original film.  In that film, Peter Vincent was a down-on-his-luck, television actor with a show somewhat similar to Elvira.  The new and not-so-improved Peter Vincent is played by one of my favorite actors and Doctor Who favorite, David Tennant.  David's character is a Chris Angel-like magician who lives in the penthouse of a fancy-schmancy hotel on the Vegas strip. Oh...and he just so happens to collect ancient vampire relics.  
Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent in the original film
Like the first film, Peter Vincent is the film's comic relief, however, unlike Roddy McDowall, David had a tendency to overact a bit.  The original Peter Vincent was panicky, clammy, and wide-eyed, whereas the new Peter Vincent is clownish and diva-like.  Fortunately, David, being the good actor that he is, brings it home in the end, but the writers and producers really overdid the Chris Angel-thing.
Vampires ride motorcycles?
Despite some flaws, the characters are smartly written, the story is entertaining, and there's a great comedic flair throughout the film.  If a vampire named Jerry "living" in the suburbs isn't funny then I don't know what is?  Overall, Fright Night was fun to watch and gratifying to the fans of the original film.  There's also a great homage to the original film in the form of a very special guest appearance, which I will not spoil. However, it should be seen in 2D.  The 3D version was somewhat dark and unnecessary. The cinematography deserves an honorable mention.
Anton Yelchin as Charley Brewster takes on Jerry the Vampire
Another thing that added to my viewing experience of Fright Night was the audience. I had the pleasure of sitting next to a man who chuckled and laughed loudly throughout the entire film.  "Chuckles" as I refer to him, laughed at every scene, even the mundane ones, such as when a character entered a room, walked down the street, or opened a door.  Chuckles continued to laugh as the credits rolled.  So sitting next to someone strange during Fright Night will make your movie-going experience all the more enjoyable. I highly advise it.

THREE OUT OF FIVE STARS

29 comments:

  1. Wonderful to know that Fright Night remake was good. I enjoyed the first movie and did't want it ruined for me. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  2. I had my doubts as well. The first one was great and I didn't see a need for a remake. Since it's getting such great reviews, I'll probably go see it next weekend. This weekend is Conan, reviews be damned!

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  3. Sounds good, they were interviewing Tennant today on Radio 2 about it.

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  4. @Laila-- Yes, it's one of the few good remakes this year. I was somewhat surprised. Thanks for the comment. I will be checking out your blog as well.

    @Alex-- Ha, your comment on Conan is hilarious. I'm with you. I'm seeing it!

    @Angry Lurker-- I really like Tennant but I thought he overacted a bit in this role. Overall it was good though.

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  5. I was kind of shocked that this horror remake is getting good reviews. I may check it out.

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  6. I was so worried this was going to suck. I loved the original. Thrilled to learn I will not be disappointed. Unfortunately, I have to wait until 2 Sep for the UK release.

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  7. Some of these new vampire movies strike me more as comedies almost...almost;)

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  8. I'm scared of my own shadow, you really think I'm going to watch this?

    Heck of no!

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  9. Lol, Chuckles is in every movie theater. Lucky you for sitting next to him! :P

    I am guilty of saying this movie is going to suck, etc...etc. I was prejudging because I'm in love with the old one. But I did think it may surprise me. Thank you for posting this, I may check it out...tonight!

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  10. Colin Farrell is a pretty cool guy and doesn't afraid of anything.

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  11. Oh, I can see Charlie Barlet in there. He's a very good actor.

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  12. I really can't wait to see this. I haven't been this excited about a horror movie in theaters since...Land of the Dead maybe. I'm glad you and everyone else likes it so much. I'm in Canada at the moment, and they are all Tennant crazy right now.

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  13. I think I would have like sitting next to Chuckles... as long as he didn't follow me out of the theater. And I think I'll check out this movie. I'm a fan of the original... loved Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent... so I wasn't interested initially. But, your review sounds like this was a successful re-imagining.

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  14. @Film Geek-- I think you should definitely see it. If you liked the original you'll like this one. It's a great homage.

    @Isis-- You will not be disappointed. The wait will be worth it.

    @Mark-- You're spot on. Fright Night has always bordered on campy horror as it's about a vampire who moves to the suburbs.

    @Nowaysj-- The original had an "R" rating, this one is PG-13, so it's somewhat tamer. You should check it out.

    @Jammer-- Me too. Campy horror is one of my favorite genres.

    @Real Queen-- Ha, this chuckles was especially festive. I had never heard a person laugh all the way through the credits before.

    Like you, I am a big fan of the original, so I was wary, but I was not disappointed. Overall it's a great homage to the original.

    @Cheshire-- I have to agree w/ you. I'm not a fan of Colin Farrell, but he was well cast in this role. His bad boy reputation served him well in this role.

    @Necroticism-- I agree. Anton did a great job as Charley Brewster. He did a lot better than I had expected. He reminded me a lot of William Ragsdale.

    @Kamatacci-- I totally didn't expect to like it so I'm more surprised than anyone, but I think you'll really enjoy it.

    @Doralynn-- I'm with you. I really liked Roddy McDowall. I was a big Lost in Space fan. As great as David is, he doesn't hold a candle to Roddy's performance in the original, but I think that's b/c of the way Peter Vincent was written in the 2nd film. But since this is more of a reimagining than a remake, I kind of moved past it. They really are very different films.

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  15. Nice review. Now I have to see Rise of the Apes, and Fright Night and Don't be Afraid of the dark ... what a nice problem to have!

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  16. @Keith Hi Keith-- Thanks. Yes, Fright Night surprised me. I had a suspicious that Planet of the Apes would be good. I'm looking forward to Don't be Afraid of the Dark, but they haven't had any screenings for it yet, which may or may not be a good sign.

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  17. I was gonna pass on this one, but maybe it's worth checking out after all.

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  18. I probably won't watch this... I just haven't been interested in movies anymore lately.
    But Colin Farrel should definitely be cloned for my pleasure. lol

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  19. Glad you noticed the Criss Angel thing too! That was a bit distracting, but he turned out to be a good character.

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  20. @fpotd Thanks a bunch!

    @Natural One I thought the same. I actually got a free pass to see this one or I probably wouldn't have paid to see it, but I'm so glad I did b/c it really is a good remake. One of the few...

    @tracirz Colin definitely pulled this role off without a hitch. I think his bad boy persona helped him in the role of the vampire.

    @Major.Mack I think you should give it a try. It surprised me. I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was.

    @Sylar Hi thanks. I checked out your blog. Very funny photos.

    @Wednesday's Child So glad you saw it too. They really overdid the Chris Angel thing didn't they? So much so that they really missed the mark on Peter Vincent. Thankfully David is a great actor, but it still didn't hold a candle to Roddy's performance.

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  21. Awesome video! Keep up the great work with the blog! Followed!

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  22. An award for you: http://www.drbloodsvideovault.com/2011/08/another-blog-award.html

    I'm not going to like this "Fright Night" remake, I can already tell. :(

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  23. A really very interesting read! I hope you keep updating us with more info!

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  24. Ok, this looks like the kind of horror movie that my girlfriend would like.

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  25. @Jason Thanks a bunch.

    @Dr Blood Thanks for the nomination. I think you'd really like the Fright Night remake. Give it a chance.

    @Jason Thanks again. I hope you enjoy the film.

    @DWei Thanks. I definitely think this film appears to women. I really enjoyed it.

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