Sep 26, 2011

[Movies] Fright Night (2011)

Fright Night (2011)I can't remember the last time that I had seen the original version of this movie in its entirety. The best that I can come up with are vague snippets during one of those instances when the movie was playing on HBO or something. And this is considering it's been a few years since I last had a cable subscription active. Go figure.

Remakes are a dime a dozen these days as Hollywood continues to play it safe by sticking to older movies instead of investing more in original stories and concepts. And while I generally shun remakes since they almost always manage to disappoint me, there are always those instances when the remakes aren't as bad as feared.

Admittedly I only saw this new version because of David Tennant. As a major Doctor Who fan, I've certainly missed the tenth incarnation of our time-traveling friend and the prospects of seeing him in a major feature seemed a bit too hard to resist. And thankfully, my shallow reasoning for watching this movie was rewarded by a pretty solid piece of entertainment that certainly made things worthwhile.

Fright Night is a 2011 horror comedy remake of the 1986 movie of the same name. It was directed by Craig Gillespe with a screenplay by Marti Norton. The movie was filmed and released in 3D, although my partner and I only watched the 2D version.

The movie opens with a family being brutally murdered by an unseen assailant that we know to be a vampire. Despite the efforts of the son to get his hands on a gun, he fails to defend himself against the attack. The next day, he misses roll-call at school. Many other students have stopped showing up for school recently - something that "Evil" Ed Lee (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) points out to his friend (and our protagonist) Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin). Charley tries to convince Ed that he's just being paranoid, but using old footage of them geeking out in costume becomes useful blackmail material to get Charley to join Ed in scoping out the missing boy's house.

Right after school, Charley first goes home to find his mother (Toni Collette) talking to their mysterious new neighbor, Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell). When he does eventually join Ed on their little expedition, they find no one at home at the house, further fueling Ed's speculations. His theory is that a vampire killed that family and the vampire is in fact Charley's new neighbor Jerry. But again Charley ignores his friend until Ed fails to show up for school the next day.

Given this is a movie based on a older horror movie, I appreciate the fact that they decided to take a slightly comedic route in bringing this story back to life. Had it just been basic reinterpretation of the 1986 original without really trying to innovate with the story, I expect this would have been a huge snore fest. Instead, the movie had a lighter air to it with a generous amount of witty dialogue that would pick on popular fiction (e.g, the obligatory Twilight reference) or even the story that the characters are living out as well.

Now I first need to talk about David Tennant, given he was the main reason for watching the movie. Despite his initial appearance as a Criss Angel parody clone given the leather and magical showmanship, at the end of the day he was still pretty much the Doctor...but in leather. And you know, that really worked for me, since obviously the Who fan in me is more than comfortable with his quirky way of acting and bringing character conversations to a final conclusion or course of action. Plus having him all cowardly definitely created weird echoes of the Doctor's stance of non-violence in dealing with his enemies.

And that brings us to Colin Farrell, who makes for one damn sexy vampire. He really worked out for this movie given the added bulk and muscle he was clearly bringing around with him the entire time, plus it's clear he fully enjoyed this role. He definitely exuded that kind of charming allure we associate with vampires and it's more than understandable how he manages to sweet talk just about anyone, even without the aid of supernatural abilities. Good job Collin - I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd love to, well, see more of you.

David Tennant and Anton Yelchin in Fright NightImage by lisby1 via FlickrAnton Yelchin is really coming along in his movie career, that I have to give him credit for. At only 22 years of age, he's proving to be a very intense and versatile actor, one who I can see branching out into any number of movie genres. Action, comedy, drama - he's so malleable that I think I'd enjoy him in almost any role provided sufficiently good writing behind it. And I loved how he portrayed this once-geek turned cool kid and that little awkward transition.

The action in the movie is fun, but nothing to be taken seriously. While the movie still has those moments that make you wonder why the heck the characters are being idiots, it also had its fair share of great moments of near-realism. Best example is probably the fact that just because you're wielding an axe doesn't mean you're going to magically cleave limbs and other body parts in a single swing. Yay for little moments like that.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this movie. It's really a lot of fun with a few good scary moments here and there. Definitely the kind of popcorn piece that makes watching movies in theaters still worthwhile. It gets 4 geek reference slipped into the dialog out of a possible 5.

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