Cert: 15 Runtime: 106 minsDirector: Craig Gillespie Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and David Tennant
Hey, guy. You’ve been watching me. I’ve been watching you. Your mom. There’s a kind of neglect. Gives off a kind of scent. And your girl? She is ripe. It’s on you to look out for them because there are a lot of bad people out there, Charlie.
In 1985 the world was watching Fright Night, possibly one of my favorite horrors from the 80’s. Now the re-make genre is kicking in and Fright Night has been on the list and in 3D.Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a ex-nerd who has joined ‘the cool crowd,’ dropping his oldest friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) for a hot cheerleader girlfriend (Imogen Poots). Things are looking oh-so-grand for the little flake (I mean, come on, any guy who hurtfully tells his friend “the day my life got better was the day I stopped hanging with you” is well a douche), he gets a new next-door neighbor that his mom (Toni Collette) takes a liking to: Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrel). Now Jerry seems like a cool guy, but as we all know, you don’t cast Colin Farrell to be your average next-door neighbor. Ed’s attempts to convince Charley that Jerry is actually a vampire fail, but when Ed himself goes missing and Jerry shows proof of what he is, Charley goes to the only person who might have the answer: Peter Vincent (David Tennant), the Las Vegas magician who boasts of supernatural knowledge on how to kill vampires.
The choice to modernize the original 1985 “Fright Night” doesn’t like that bright an idea considering the current rule that all horror remakes suck, but somehow this became a unique effort due to diligent actors, a reliable director, and successful laugh and scare gags. It is, without exaggeration, the first great entry in the long line of atrocious horror remakes. It takes what we liked about the original and comes up some clever changes that update the story 26 years to the present.
The all-star cast deliver a gratifying romp of suspense and chuckles, but the movie belongs to its villain and its anti-hero, Colin Farrell and David Tennant. The rest give solid performances (especially Mintz-Plasse), but they pale compared to the main act.Colin Farrell, when given the opportunity, revels in the grittiness of villainy whenever he can. For Jerry Dandrige, Farrell is at an all-time evil high and unchains his dark side. Part Hannibal Lector in his charming menace and part Buffalo Bill in his vicious brutality, Farrell carves himself a sweetly unpredictable part filled with great moments (from his menacing way of asking for a six-pack of beer to his ultimate way of overstepping house invitation rules to a great moment where his decision to do absolutely nothing produces far worse results).
The fascinating part about Jerry is he isn’t like regular vampires. He seems more inspired by the worst of modern serial killers than mythical killing machines, with his secret torture rooms and closet full of dozens of uniforms signifying authority (from firemen to the post office to the police). He’s modern without being “Twilight.” He’s a ominous hulking mass. Those characteristics mixed together with his bizarre personality create a rather unique Hollywood vampire. Due to this, I wish the “transformation” to full-on vampire face was never included, as it is poor CGI and takes away from Farrell’s menace.David Tennant, who I will admit I adore as the 10th Doctor Who, is a cinematic gem. His acting style has always been that of a Shakespearean extremist, and I can’t think of a better role that has such obvious wicked glee in allowing him to let loose. There is something strangely mesmerizing in Tennant’s scenes as the vulgar magician-turned-vampire-killer, especially in his first big scene where his vehemence and wide-eyed enthusiasm is outstandingly exaggerated. Also, seeing him acting with a giant shotgun is way more fun than I expected it to be. He’s about as entertaining – if not more so – than the performance given by Roddy McDowall.
In the end, what really matters about this movie? Is the movie suspenseful and thrilling? Yes, especially when Jerry really is allowed to let loose his menacing charm and kill with the same love of general violence of a “Reservoir Dogs” character. Is the movie funny when it tries to be? Absolutely. The pop culture references – especially in a crack on “Twilight” and comparing Jerry to the shark from “Jaws” – work particularly well. This is a huge amount of fun. So if you walk into this expecting the right kind of movie, “Fright Night” is that perfect Friday night scare.7.3/10