Posted on August 29, 2011 by Steven Dawes
“Let’s Kill Something” –Peter Vincent
So with summer coming to a close, I’ve finally got some days off from school before I’m back again this fall. After all the HTML learning, numeric coding, interface designing, networking essentials and even Human Relations (only cause it’s required), I was ready for some time off. It seemed to be fortuitous that Fright Night came out in the middle of my break, for I am REALLY in need of some horror shenanigans to blow off some steam.
Now, before I continue on, I have a horrible confession to make. I’m very ashamed to admit this, and my fingers are shaking in fear of this revelation so much that it’s difficult for me to even type right now. But they say the truth shall set you free… so here it goes… *exaggerated gulp* … I’ve never seen the original 1985 Fright Night… *the sounds of crickets can be heard clearly in the distance*.
Are you still there? Hello?
If you’re still with me, I apologize across the board. I know, I know… I deserve all the rocks you can throw at me for this one. This mook right here, this horror movie aficionado and long time reviewer of horror flicks, has never seen what is considered to be a cornerstone horror flick to many fans. I have buds who swear by the original, some claiming it the best vampire movie ever made. And yet somehow I’ve managed to miss the original. It’s not like I even set out to avoid it or anything, I just never hooked up with the original F.N.
That being said, it puts me in a unique position for a change. Usually I’m one who can compare the remakes against the classics as I’ve seen them all. But with this one, I won’t be able to do that, I’m going to have to perform the odd job of reviewing a remake on its own merits, without considering its inspired source. So with all that baggage out of the way, let’s light this candle.
On the whole, I fought F.N. to be very entertaining. First and foremost worth mentioning was the cast, whom all seemed to have great chemistry together and great acting chops on their own. Anton Yelchin was stellar from the word “Fright” as Charley Brewster. He played the “dweeb turned vampire hunter to save his mom and his girl” role like a champ. I’ve seen him do good work previously as a young Kyle Reese in Terminator: Salvation, a young Chekov in the Star Trek reboot, and as a young David Duchovny in an art house favorite of mine titled The House of D, but this is his best performance to date. I see a lot of good things in this kid’s future.
He was especially impressive as he had to hold his own against Colin Farell, who took a bite out of every scene he was in (yes, pun intended). Colin has been underused for some time now in my opinion (his performance in the Daredevil movie is always worth watching, especially the superior Directors Cut version), and it’s great to see him chewing up the silver screen where he belongs. His presence, his improvising, his knack for scene stealing, he simply owned the night!
But it didn’t stop there, for we also got a heaping helping of David “Dr. Who” Tennant as “Peter Vincent” to go with his meal. The man cussed up a hilarious storm, he drank Midori like a man in need of another Midori, he made a great impression of a Chris Angel wannabe, and had me in stitches more than once. He pulled off the feat of being a hysterical character without ruining the semi-dark feel and tone the film was going for. Rounding out the great cast was Toni Collette as Charley’s mom (who added a lot more depth and charm than what the character offered on its own), and Imogen Poots as Charley’s main squeeze Amy. I’ve only seen Imogen in a small part in V for Vendetta and a co-starred spot as “Tammy” in the finely crafted zombie-ish flick 28 Weeks Later, but she provided a solid acting job for this character with lots of zing when it was needed.
I also grooved over the energetic directing provided here (courtesy of Craig Gillespie, who directed a recently discovered personal favorite flick of mine titled “Lars and the Real Girl”). Under his direction, the movie stayed pretty much in your face the entire time, managed to keep the suspense going, made great the use of the rising and setting sun scenery (good use of the Vegas setting in general), and the vampire effects were stellar. Way to go Gillespie, looking forward to more of your work! The script was a put together well, with lots of memorable quotes and some really neat ideas (they make have all been ideas from the original version for all I know, but I liked them all the same).
On the other side of this frightful night, not all of the wooden stakes aimed for the heart in this vampire flick. The most obvious issue at hand was the blindingly fast pace. This movie was petal to the floor the whole way, and if you blinked you’d miss something. Only after the movie was over could I digest it enough to realize that I zipped past some gaping plot holes and the realization that the events simply moved way too fast to feel like a truly organic story. The events seemed to be strung together in a hurry to begin with, so the tour guide decided to race by them all faster than the tourists could take them all in. I’d like to think that adding in a little more scene time to let the tale flow a little smother would have positively affected of the film (and my movie rating). Oh yeah, I almost forgot, while there was ample gore and blood to be had, the CGI blood was way overdone, did the film crew run out of squibs or something?
Lastly the character “Ed”, played by Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse was a complete waste of film time. Who was this dope? Was he a reference to the original version in some way? Perhaps he was part of a joke from the original version that I don’t get? This flicker show didn’t need this lame character, lousy dialogue or that irritating voice of his. In fact, now that I think of it, this character’s responsible for starting the rush hour this film became; I can land most of the movies faults squarely on this character’s shoulders.
When all is bitten in the neck and sucked dry, this was a fun ride of a film. It’s the kind of film to kick back to some night and just enjoy the ride of frights, perhaps with a few brewski’s in a bucket of ice sitting next to you and a few of your buds in tow enjoying the show with you (who’d better bring their own brewski’s and stop mooching mine… schmucks). It was probably a smart move to release it during summer’s last gasps as it won’t hold up against the crop of upcoming hardcore horror flicks this Halloween season. I can recommend it at the theatre if you’re in need of a light horror appetizer before the hard core meal shows up this fall. Otherwise it’s an absolute rent and a possible purchase when it comes out on DVD (which with most movie studios these days will probably be sometime next week).
3 out of 4 tongues of flame rising
Review by Steven Dawes