Review: Fright Night
PLOT: Things seem to be looking up for Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin). After years of being bullied, he's finally become one of the "cool kids", and landed a smoking hot girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots). However, his former best friend, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is convinced local teens have been falling prey to Charlie's new neighbor; Jerry (Colin Farrell), who Ed's convinced is a vampire. Charlie starts to believe Ed's story once he goes missing, and upon discovering Jerry's secret is marked for death by the hungry vampire.
REVIEW: I have to admit something totally unfashionable before getting to my FRIGHT NIGHT review. I've never been a huge fan of the 1985 original, which, to this day, has a huge cult following and is beloved by most children of the eighties. Having been born in '81, I was too young for it when it first hit theaters, and I only saw it as a jaded nineties teen. Other than admittedly great work by Roddy McDowell, and Chris Sarandon, the film never did much for me, and my fondest memories of it are from playing the old FRIGHT NIGHT video game on a friend's Amiga.
Suffice to say, I wasn't totally offended when I heard FRIGHT NIGHT was getting a remake (although it would have been a different story if they were remaking NEAR DARK or THE LOST BOYS). I walked into FRIGHT NIGHT with no baggage whatsoever, and pleasantly, I had a total blast with it from start to finish.
It's basically a jacked-up version of the original film, with lots of nods and winks, but enough originality to be its own thing. It helps that the film has a hip script by BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER alum Marti Noxon, and rock solid direction by Craig Gillespie, who previously helmed the charming LARS & THE REAL GIRL.
BUT- the thing that really makes FRIGHT NIGHT pop is without a doubt the cast, which is pitch-perfect. When I heard Colin Farrell was playing the vamp, I dismissed this as a paycheck role, but even if it was, Farrell nails it, and seems to be having a blast as the comically intense Jerry. A scene where he tries to con Jerry into inviting him in on the pretense of needing a six-pack of beer had the audience howling with laughter, and it really bodes well for Farrell's return to big-budget blockbusters (although his indie work in films like IN BRUGES and THE WAY BACK is superb).
As Charlie Brewster, we get Anton Yelchin, who's been acing his career over his last few films, with a standout performance in the upcoming LIKE CRAZY (which I caught at Sundance), and he makes a very likable hero, walking a fine line between comedy and horror throughout, with him never playing it too much one way. Imogen Poots, a stunning young English actress, makes an appealing, sweet love-interest, and a believable on-screen match with Yelchin.
However, the big props here have to go to David Tennant who takes over for the late, great Roddy McDowell as Peter Vincent. The role's been totally re-imagined, with him initially playing Vincent like a cross between Criss Angel and Russell Brand, rather than the Vincent Price style hero of the original. He's phenomenal, and some his profanity-filed tirades are damn funny. My only beef with Vincent is that a last-minute revelation involving his past with Farrell's character seemed tacked on.
My other beef is with Evil Ed, as Plasse comes off as the only one who's really doing an imitation of the guy in the first film, and he just doesn't compare. This isn't really Plasse's fault, as the role is underwritten. Ed could have been completely written out of the remake, and it wouldn't have made a lick of difference. However, Evil Edís final line is surprisingly affecting, and itís a nice little character moment well acted by Plasse.
Other than those minor issues, FRIGHT NIGHT was bloody good fun (and I do mean bloody- it wears it's R-rating as a badge of honor). Heck, even the 3D's pretty good (although it was seriously out of whack for the first few minutes or so- speaking to the dangers of 3D exhibition), with lots of stakes, and charred vampire embers coming out of the screen throughout. If this was indeed post-conversion, it's probably the best I've seen, if still ultimately unnecessary. Even in good old 2D, FRIGHT NIGHT is totally worth checking out, and a surprising tasty late-summer treat.