Friday, September 09, 2011

First Impression: Fright Night

I went last night to watch the Craig Gillespie directed, 2011 remake of the 1985 film, and it honestly seemed destined to be a hard sell. The original Fright Night was a classic eighties horror-comedy with Roddy McDowall as the seminal 'vampire hunter' Peter Vincent.

Let us start off by saying that these are two completely different films. Whilst there are some funny moments in the remake it eschews a lot of comedy and makes a more visceral, psychotic vampire in the form of main vampire Jerry (Colin Farrell). The film also starts differently. We begin with a vampire attack on a household (indeed the entire family bar, as we later discover his name to be, Adam (Will Denton) has been slaughtered and Adam is not far behind) and Jerry already lives next door to main character Charlie (Anton Yelchin).

Charlie himself is detached from nerd character Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), due to landing popular girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots). Indeed the majority of the early vampire detection has been completed off screen by Ed. Thus, after Ed is caught and attacked by Jerry, Charlie develops a conscience, looks into Ed’s evidence and sees video footage with an invisible Jerry (as he doesn’t appear on video) and this is why he believes in the vampire next door. However, I wasn’t as keen on the Ed character in this as I was in the original. This was not performance based, I just felt that the direction and core of the character was not as sympathetic in this film.

Once Charlie believes, he actually breaks into Jerry’s house to try and save a neighbour (and stripper) who is held by Jerry. This leads to him taking some pictures of a coat of arms/flag Jerry keeps and Charlie trying to sneak the woman out of the house. A well-constructed sequence all told, which ends with the stripper (who is infected) burning explosively in the sun. At this point Charlie goes to find Peter Vincent (David Tennant).

The Peter Vincent character is very different. Gone is the bumbling actor who hosts a horror show and in is a flash stage magician who is actually a drunken letch, and who collects occult paraphernalia. We later get more depth to his character that I don’t want to spoil. As I said, these are two different films and I still love the original Peter Vincent, but I actually think I prefer this incarnation, who was also the comedic source in the film. Of course, Jerry is – at this point – after Charlie big style and Colin Farrell plays a rather sociopathic character that is less suave that the original Chris Sarandon character (Sarandon makes a cameo appearance) but more dangerous all told. I also liked the little bit of vampiric background, suggesting that Jerry is a specific type of vampire whose breed is represented by the coat of arms Charlie finds.

If I had a complaint it was that occasional cgi blood was obviously cgi blood. I saw a 2D screening and so I can’t comment on the 3D but, in truth, I find that few films benefit from the fad dimension and it, more often than not, leads to audience headaches. However, all in all this was an excellent remake, a very different film that stood on its own two feet. As much as you can, cast the original out of your mind and enjoy it for what it is. The imdb page is here.


Zahir Blue said...

I was planning on catching this sooner or later anyway. Now I'm a bit more enthused1

Taliesin_ttlg said...

honestly do, it stands up on its own and I suspect you'll really enjoy Tennant's performance

Anonymous said...

I was pleasantly surprised by how smart the script was.

One theme is that the ladykiller alpha male ideal is not what it's cracked up to be. There's Charlie rejecting his friends in his attempt to be popular, David Vincent's alcohol-fueled facade, and Jerry is the epitome of the pick-up artist super alpha.

I usually dislike 3D, but the effect of burning cinders in the foreground was pretty impressive.