MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Fright Night’ (2011)

Written by J.T. Johnson

3-stars

DIRECTOR: Craig Gillespie
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Javier Aguirresarobe
WRITER: Marti Noxon
MUSIC: Ramin Djawadi

As far as unnecessary remakes go, “Fright Night” is one of the better films to be released. Like the original 1985 movie, it seems destined to gather a cult following, more as an addition to the legacy of the first film than on its own merits. Still, with certain other films out there, this is one of the better vampire films to be made in the last decade thanks to the old school mentality that its original counterpart shared.

In the original film, Charley Brewster found out pretty quickly that his neighbor was an evil blood sucker. This time, it is Charley’s (Anton Yelchin) best friend, “Evil” Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who discovers Jerry’s (Colin Ferrell) dark secret and needs to convince Charley of the threat. Charley acts like a dick due to the fact that his previous friendship with Ed has dissolved due to Charley’s rise in popularity.

This is due mostly to Charley now dating one of the hottest girls at school, Amy Peterson (Imogen Poots). Soon, though, Charley discovers the truth and Jerry threatens to target his girlfriend and mother (Toni Collette). Charley then must enlist the help of a Vegas magician who claims to be a vampire expert. That magician is Peter Vincent (David Tennant) and he runs a show called, wait for it, “Fright Night”.

It’s a good time at this point to mention that there are several things that get in the way of this film being a perfect horror flick or, more importantly, a film that stands up completely with the original. First, the CGI work done to reveal more of the monster that Jerry truly is just doesn’t stand up to the brilliant prosthetic make-up from the original. It’s not to say that the original film’s make-up was entirely convincing, it was just executed better than what was done here with a computer.

Secondly, and this is the biggest problem, is the fact that this film was shot in 3D. The action, which is quite good for the most part, is interrupted by horrible shots that were clearly made for the 3D effect. This includes a healthy amount of blood, arrows and glass annoyingly being shot at the audience. It’s another example of how the “state-of-the-art” technology is just a mere gimmick.

The last problem is the fact that Charley is a genuine bag of douche for the first 15 minutes. This makes it hard for the audience to even consider liking him, but fortunately the film gets with the program quickly and Charley becomes the hero of the picture. The original set up Charley as the hero right away and that worked better than having Charley go through a coming-of-age lesson about the true value of friendship.

The truly genius performance of this film belongs to Ferrell. He’s taking over a role that was clearly defined by Chris Sarandon in the original cult classic. Ferrell is great as the initially charming yet deceptive Jerry and his performance is worth the price of admission alone. Luckily, he’s not the only one who pulls his own weight.

Tennant is brilliant as Peter Vincent, the character most changed from his original counterpart. In the original, Roddy McDowall played Peter Vincent as a failed actor who initially joins Charley in order to convince him that vampires are not real only to join him by the end. This time, Peter is a colorful, profanity-ridden stage magician with a secret of his own and Tennant plays the part perfectly.

The film can be a bit messy at times, but with old school vampire evil and some kickass performances, this film is definitely worth a look. Also, look out for a cameo from the original Jerry, Chris Sarandon.

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