Sunday, August 21, 2011

Film Review: Fright Night (2011)


I'm here to tell you that the remake of Fright Night isn't a bad film. Seriously, it's not. The original goes down as one of my favorite vampire films of all time...so, for me to say that this new version isn't bad is pretty remarkable. However, the film isn't really all that great either. Here...let's discuss...shall we?

I won't talk much about the original in my review of this new version. I was going to make a side by side comparison...but, instead, I'll simply use the original as reference for this new Fright Night. I'm sure some devout fans of the original are hating this remake before the projector even rolls...so, I don't really want to add more hate to my review. Had this new version really sucked, then believe me...I would be spraying the hate around like the goddamn Bellagio fountains.

Aside from the characters' names in the film, it really goes for it's own thing. I mean, don't get me wrong...the film has the DNA of the classic all throughout the movie...but, it does attempt to create its own universe. The premise this time around takes place in the desolate suburbs of Las Vegas. Kind of a perfect place for a vampire to snack on all kinds of prey. Especially when given the fact that today's economy has most home owners abandoning their houses in foreclosure. So, the occasional vacant home doesn't really cause any kind of alarm. The neighbors haven't fallen prey to a blood-thirsty vampire...they must've just moved. It's a really great place to tell a new story involving Jerry Dandridge...if you think about it.


Speaking of Jerry Dandridge...Colin Farrell does a really kick ass job playing the original role that Chris Sarandon made so iconic. He really goes for the throat with the lethality that he brings into the character. If I were a vampire...this is exactly what I would be. A blood-thirsty predator that doesn't give a fuck about romanticism and humanity. Instead, he's like a shark. His only instinct is to kill. If anything, I hope this film inspires new incarnations of the vampire in films and pushes things away from the sparkly, prancing vampires from tween novels. Farrell is the best thing in this new remake. He even throws the apple eating thing from the original film in there for good measure.

If Farrell stands out as the best part of the film...then, Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the bottom of the barrel worst thing in the film. His rendering of the Evil Ed character feels so forced and cheap...it kind of takes you out of the good vampire film that you seem to have been watching and instead plants you right back into the cheap remake that you are watching. I know that Mintz-Plasse, whom you'll remember as McLovin' from Superbad, really tried to do a 180 on the iconic character and inject his own thing...but, I wished that he could've just embraced the character instead of trying to make him his own. I don't feel that he has the range as an actor to just go away from the source and attempt something original. Well...neither was Geoffreys, for that matter...but, at least he created something wild and fresh at the time. This is a remake...so, you either pay homage to the originals...or you knock your own spin of the performance out of the ballpark. Mintz-Plasse does neither.


The character of Charley Brewster is basically wasted in this new Fright Night. He comes off as such a douche that you don't really attach yourself to the character like in the original. I usually don't mind Anton Yelchin as a character actor...but, during this retelling of an old horror classic I kept thinking about plugging in another young actor. Like, Kyle Gallner (The Haunting in Connecticut). He would've made a cool kind of brooding Charley Brewster. Or maybe Bret Harrison (Reaper) might've made an awesome Charley Brewster as a little older take on the character. But, then I stopped myself in the midst of my lapse of distraction and realized that the character of Brewster in this version didn't really captivate me. I could care less about his plight against the vampire that moved in next door. In fact, I wanted Dandridge to win in this film...and that's kind of bad when your film's hero becomes unimportant.

The unfortunately named Imogen Poots does her thing as Amy. Not really memorable...but, likeable enough. However, I was surprised that she actually stayed with Charley in the film. Peter Vincent is now played by the awesome David Tennant who plays Vincent as a sort of rock and roll style vampire illusionist who works on the Vegas strip. It's funny because he plays a better Russell Brand than Russell Brand does. We later find out that this version of Peter Vincent actually goes a bit deeper thus tying his relationship to Dandridge at the end. Many have complained that Vincent as a Vegas magician doesn't really fit into the whole story...but, I actually liked this version. It makes sense when you take into account the setting of Vegas and the desperation thrown into Charley's world.

There's a bunch of silly stuff going on in this film like the stupid "How to Pick a Lock" app that was completely unnecessary. Lisa Loeb as Evil's mom was kind of silly and distracting. And the in-your-face depiction of how completely vapid of depth and soul this generation of young teenagers is shown as in the film. Almost taken out of an Old Navy commercial.


Still...there are lots to like about this version. Director Craig Gillespie does a decent enough job of creating the tension and the atmosphere in the film. There's a really good scene where Charley attempts to rescue a victim from Jerry's house only to be met with a really cool ending. Oh(!)...and there's even a really awesome cameo from someone from the original film that you won't see coming...I won't spoil the scene for you, but when it did come the audience that I watched the film with nearly gave a standing ovation (myself included). I already mentioned Farrell's portrayal of the killer Jerry Dandridge. Even the CGI isn't too bad...well, except for the final battle scenes, which look like you just defeated a final boss in a video game.

In all, Fright Night is nowhere near the iconic classic that the original came to be...but, I won't hold that against it...because I will always love 1985's version. However, it is a film in a dry season of horror that is enjoyable enough to spend an hour and a half in a dark theater. Nothing more. I didn't watch it in "Real 3D"...so, I can't speak on those effects...it didn't really seem to matter, tho. I would say...watch it as a horror film lover and try to check your grudge of classic remakes at the door...and you should have a good enough time. Don't worry about this version pissing all over the original Fright Night (like the Nightmare on Elm Street remake did to the original)...because, it doesn't. And besides, we'll always have that one in our hearts.



Thanks for reading,

bryan.


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