August 22, 2011

There Goes the Neighborhood!

It's the Dog Days of Summer, my friends. Now that July has passed and the two or three BIG movies have come out, the time has come for... nothing. That's right. Almost nothing of consequence comes out in this period of four weeks, leaving you, the intrepid, cinematic explorer, flapping in the wind. But, every so often, this month does yield interesting results. Two years ago, we had District 9 and (500) Days of Summer. Last year, we had Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This year, we have Fright Night. Ok, yes, I know. Horror remake and all that, and yes, I know what sort of pedigree that dastardly sub-genre carries. But, take it from me, Fright Night delivers. This is a hip, stylish, gory, funny as balls retooling of the 1985 cult classic. Boasting strong performances from some über talented people, a slick presentation, a smart sense of humor and self-deprecation, and plenty of blood to go around, Fright Night is one hell of good time. 

I vant to... you know the rest. 

Man, the suburbs are sad. But, whatever. I'm not one to judge. Live where you want, even if it is a shitSORRY!! Not judging. Anyway, there's Charlie. He's your average high school senior, with a solid home life, smoking hot girlfriend, and a pack of friends. He also happens to have a vampire living next door. Said vampire, Jerry, is all charming and suave, but as Charlie begins to investigate a little bit, he discovers Jerry's sinister habit. Once his family and friends are threatened by his demonic neighbor, Charlie enlists the help of an over the top Vegas showman, Peter Vincent, who specializes in the occult, to deal with the bloodsucking pest, because going to the Neighborhood Watch isn't good enough for today's youth, I guess. 

What makes Fright Night (the original and the remake) refreshing is how it takes the vampire mythos, modernizes it, but keeps the rules the same. So all the usual vampire tropes are here, stakes, holy water, garlic, sunlight, the whole she-bang! But modernizing makes it feel new again. Yes, the story is sort of predictable, but there are more than enough twists and surprises in the road to keep things suspenseful and interesting. 

The cast here would be considered solid for any flick, and it's absolutely loaded for a horror remake. Anton Yelchin does well as Charlie, as does Toni Collette as his mother. Imogen Poots, who you may remember from 28 Weeks Later... is fine, though she needs to work on her accent. Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Charlie's friend Evil Ed (Hint: He's evil!) is alright, but he's doing the same thing he's been doing since Fogell!

There are two standouts however. Colin Farrell is simply awesome as Jerry! I've always been sort of a Farrell apologist; I think he's incredibly talented, but he just makes some pretty stupid decisions. But, as of late, he's been doing better and better things, and he is on fire here! He plays Jerry like a smooth, aggressive alpha male, and it is fantastic. He handles his absurdly creepy dialogue like a champ, and sucks blood like Robert Pattinson wishes he could. And man, does that guy know how to eat an apple! So delicious. 

And then there's The Doctor! Yes, everyone's favorite Time Lord goes sleazy and goth as Peter Vincent, and let me tell you, David Tennant owns the whole thing! Every scene he's in immediately shifts focus to him, whether it wants to or not. A lot of the quirks of his iconic role come through here, not the least of which is his elongated "Well", but Tennant isn't on repeat. He makes the character completely his own, and delivers a inspired piece of lunacy! It doesn't hurt that some of his lines would make The Doctor blush. I don't think you ever heard him talk to Rose or Donna about how "filthy" some girl he slept with was. Ah, the life of a Vegas showman. 

See what happens to me when you take away my TARDIS?

Director Craig Gillespie crafts and effective and stylish flick here, ably mixing gut busting comedy with scares. Fright Night isn't a satirization of beloved horror genre, like Sean of the Dead, and it's not as funny, but what's here is great. The dialogue crackles and pops, with the actors handling the whiz-bang nature of their lines like pros. It's like the horror movie Jennifer's Body would be, if Jennifer's Body wasn't a big pile of ASS!! The comedy is inspired and very well done, and is balanced out nicely by a hefty amount of stylized gore and violence. 

I'm sorry, but seeing The Doctor pull out a gun that fires big-ass stakes and use it on a bunch of vampires is a really satisfying image! 

Unfortunately, there is one flaw that would normally sink a movie such as this, provided that everything else wasn't sooooo good! It's not scary enough. Sure, Jerry is an intimidating force to be reckoned with, and his scenes where he just stands there leering are pretty chilling, but when the action picks up, it's more fun than terrifying. There are some jumps, and a couple of "Oh Damn!" moments, but you won't be getting any nightmares from this one. 

But who cares, because if there's one word I want you to take away from that last paragraph, it's fun. Fright Night is really fun! Really funny, really gory, and with really good performances! Though Farrell and Tennant run away with the movie, everyone else should still be proud of the work they put in. Let me tell you. Given the state of horror remakes these days, what with Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween being the stinkers that they are, it is a real pleasure to see one rise above the others and strive (and succeed) to be a good movie that rides on more than its nostalgia. Fright Night, I salute you!


  1. I am right there with you in my review. This was highly enjoyable. And I had no issue with a remake. Some films, like the original Fright night, can be remade without too many feathers being ruffled.

  2. Nice Review! The tone may be all over the place, but it still has a lot of fun to it with blood, guts, and gore flying at you with good performances from the cast, especially Farrell who seems like he's just having a ball with this role. Check out my review when you can!