Opening in theaters Friday, August 19
Directed by Craig Gillespie
(Editor’s Note: This comes to us from guest reviewer who caught the film at Empire Big Screen Convention in London.)
You know the story: Charley is a popular high school kid who is dating Amy, the most sought after girl, hangs out with the cool kids and neglects his former best friend and social pariah, Ed. He lives with his hard working single mother, Jane, and their relationship isn’t completely simpatico. Then, he meets his new neighbor Jerry, and something about him doesn’t sit right with Charley. Soon enough, students from the school go missing. Charley begins to suspect his new neighbour of foul play, but the truth is far more sinister than he could possibly imagine. Turning to someone who is an authority on vampires.
Before I go on, there will be many references to the original movie, because behind the subtle differences between the two, this movie is a straightforward remake, but it’s the subtle differences that make this remake enjoyable, and able to stand on its own two feet.
Fright Night is a beloved horror movie from the ’80s, mainly because it mixes the blend of horror and comedy to a perfect ratio. The remake does the exact same.
A lot of the characters are borderline clichÃ©d, but when you’re dealing with a movie about vampires, you’d be forgiven to just believe what you see. The light comic moments are laugh out loud funny, while the horror aspects are, in fact, quite scary, mainly because of some clever camera work and subtle direction by Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl).
Anton Yelchin excelled in earlier movies such as Charlie Bartlett and recently The Beaver. I mention these movies specifically because they show his full acting range, whereas in Star Trek, he just puts on an accent and makes a few jokes. Playing semi-loner Charley is something that is incredibly different to William Ragsdale’s Charley, because there are layers to the character, and that comes from Marti Noxon’s clever script. He is a hero that you want to follow, which makes the film much more acceptable. Playing single, also lonely, mother is Toni Collette, so you already will be thinking that they have expanded the mother’s role from the original, and thankfully, they have, giving her a chance to enjoy some of the horrific action sequences.
British talent Imogen Poots really shines as Amy, even though the character is very close to being labelled as the damsel in distress, but it’s her personality that makes you want to root for Amy and Charley. I do remember thinking in the original that Charley would be better off without Amy, whereas here, Amy is part of Charley’s status in school which does grow into genuine affection. Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Ed is also a well-defined character, showing how a person can go from resentment to absolute hatred. It’s a slippery slope for him, but I can’t help think that someone else should have been cast in this role, because all I saw was another take on his Red Mist character from Kick-Ass. Yes, McLovin is what I would call the weakest link in this film.
Which brings us to the two heavyweights of this film. I am a Doctor Who fan, and I have enjoyed a lot of David Tennant’s theater work. The change from making Peter Vincent a host of a late night horror show, to a semi-famous illusionist with delusions of grandeur (obviously based on someone, who shall remain nameless) is one of the movie’s most cleverest changes, and Tennant is clearly up to the task. As with Roddy McDowell in the original, Peter Vincent really is a sidekick to Charley’s main hero, and the banter between Yelchin and Tennant is some of the film’s best moments. Think what if Abbot and Costello played Obi Wan and Luke Skywalker.
Now, to the movie’s big bad. Colin Farrell was borderline camp when he played Bullseye in Daredevil. Here, he relishes being evil, and he certainly is menacing. A movie like this is only as good as its monster, and simply put, you will not be disappointed.
Every aspect of this movie is spot-on, but what lets it down are things that should, by now, be perfected. The CG is laughable, especially when Jerry shows his true fangs. Rather than going with prosthetics, the filmmakers opted for a CG transformation, which lets a lot of the horror down, because when you should be scared or on the edge of your seat, you’re seeing how bad the CG is, detracting from what should have been genuine frights. The 3D didn’t help matters either.
Fright Night is a comedy-horror film that delivers on both in spades. Despite some minor flaws, it’s definitely one of the better films this summer.