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Fright Night

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Scott Roberts
Fright Night
on Aug 22, 2011 at 6:34:14 pm

I saw Fright Night during the day on Friday, then almost immediately after it went to a weekend long bachelor party for my friend, so I'll try my best to review this movie despite the fact I probably lost a few brain cells before it had a chance to really soak in.

The original Fright Night seemed like a movie that perhaps didn't need the remake treatment, but I was pretty surprised at how much I enjoyed the new one. Of course with the vampire craze of the last few years, how could they NOT remake Fright Night? At the very least, they did what most horror remakes usually fail at doing - keeping it fun. Fright Night does a great job of never getting heavy handed. It's just a nice little story about living next to an a-hole vampire.

In the original (which I haven't watched since college) there was at least initially a little mystery involved as to whether the neighbor was actually a vampire, I think...? I don't know what the original's marketing campaign was; if they gave away he most certainly a vampire before you walk in the theater or not. But for the new one, they pretty much establish in the commercials that Colin Farrell is a vampire. And they don't BS you about it in the movie either, trying to build up a mystery about something you already know. From the first scene to the last, it's blatantly apparent that he's a vampire. And it kind of *sucks* to live next door to him (rimshot; thank you, I'm here all day, folks).

One thing I really liked about the movie is that it didn't beat around the bush too much, it stayed relatively on track and focused on the vampire element. There is some character development of the main character, and it's appreciated, but maybe not even all that important in the long run. Establishing he used to be a nerd? I guess that's to show he has the nerd skills to fight a vampire when the time comes, a skill a non-nerd wouldn't be capable of? Or something? I suppose it did make him more relatable; to know he did have some kind of personality at some point in his life.

The acting in the movie was really good, well, at least from Colin Farrell as Jerry the vampire (they make fun of the name several times in the movie). He plays the prickish monster angle pretty well. He didn't really have all that many lines, and I know that helped the performance. That's not so much a slam on Farrell, who has done some fine acting work in the past, but more so that Jerry the vampire benefited from being a passive aggressive jerk. One of my favorite moments from the film is Jerry casually walking around the main character's house while they are all staring at him, and he nonchalantly digs up a gas line and lights their entire house on fire. Like it was no big deal to casually blow up someone's house. It's that kind of mayhem that made Jerry a very interesting villain, and made the movie better all around. Wildcard!

Anton Yelchin (the Russian kid from the new Star Trek movies) was adequate. Not great. Sounds like he forces a lot of his lines. Christopher Mintz Plasse was fine as the nerdy smart ass. He's done that before, he knows the deal. Toni Collette is OK as the mother, but I take it almost anyone else could have done her role just as good or better. David Tennant, who I've just learned is a former Doctor Who (so that's why everyone is crapping their pants over some guy I've never heard of), is pretty funny as a "vampire killing" Las Vegas magician. He's funny without ever going TOO cartoonish for his own good. And the girlfriend is played by an incredibly attractive actress with an awesome name - Imogen Poots. Her acting is only maybe slightly above average, but she is beautiful... Need more Poots! Now that I look her up on IMDb, she was also in Solitary Man and 28 Weeks Later, and she was good looking in both of those too. Make her the new James Bond girl or something, Hollywood. Make Imogen Poots a star, please.

I saw Fright Night in 3D, which actually had some neat "in your face" moments. But it was really dark, especially in some of the abandoned house scenes. It almost looked like the cinematographer made an exposure mistake. Very hard to see. But I'm sure it was just 3D darkening.

Overall, it's a really fun movie if you're into the horror genre. It's not particularly scary or anything, but it is moderately gory. But gory without being torture porn. Just blood spurts and such (it's vampires, c'mon!). It's *almost* a horror comedy, but in my opinion I don't feel like it ever truly enters that realm. More just a good horror movie that's also kind of funny. Most importantly, it's entertaining. Never felt bored throughout it, and I was actually interested in most (if not all) of the characters and what happened to them.

It's much more True Blood than Twilight, if that makes sense to you.

<iframe width="560" height="345" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/txgGhyjPZGg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>


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Tim Wilson
Re: Fright Night
on Aug 24, 2011 at 1:30:31 pm

I loved this movie!

[Scott Roberts] "Jerry the vampire benefited from being a passive aggressive jerk. "

He's genius in supporting, "character actor" roles like these. I can't imagine that he won't get more leading roles, but likely without being a "leading man."

For example, I have often pimped Farrell's work in In Bruges as a real breakthrough for him, and another desert island movie for me. I think it reminded him that he was never in this for the money, but to do really good work.

If anything, I could have used him chewing up the scenery a bit more, but I really did like the subtlety of his performance.

I liked the rest of the cast better than you did. Agreed that the mother character was something of a placeholder, but also an example of the producers' interest in making this more than a routine picture. It was still a shockingly low budget ($35m), for both the look and the talent. They were clearly all in it for reals.


[Scott Roberts] "I saw Fright Night in 3D, which actually had some neat "in your face" moments. But it was really dark, especially in some of the abandoned house scenes. It almost looked like the cinematographer made an exposure mistake. Very hard to see. But I'm sure it was just 3D darkening. "

Actually, no. It was shot to be dark. The director admitted that this really limited the depth they could use on the 3D, but would rather sacrifice that than go artificially bright.

That said, I agree, some nicely done old-school 3D. Spatters of blood flying at your face? Of course! "May I have some more, please?" That's why you go to a 3D movie like this. I wish that the producers of Pirates and Transformers understood this.

[Scott Roberts] "It's *almost* a horror comedy"

I actually think they nailed this. Apart from a single gory scene played for laughs - a vampire that wouldn't die gag that was an update of Paul Ruben's part in the original Buffy movie - I swear that the only reason the movie was rated R was for the language, most of which was hilarious.

Tennant was awesome. Every scene, in fact, nearly every line, was played for laughs, and they all worked. They kept him completely out of the commercials until after the movie opened, but even now, you only get a hint out of how rich his performance is.

I really enjoyed the commercials, so went in with that kind of expectation: some vampire stuff in the service of a movie that was funnier than not.

My wife's only complaint is that the opening Suburbia/Rear Window stuff took too long to get started, and she was nearly bored enough to leave...but after the first half-hour, she had to agree that the set-up paid off.

I'm sooooo not a horror guy, but I wouldn't mind seeing a lot more movies like this.

And when I DO go see movies like this, I want them all to have 3D that's as playful as this. Save the tasteful 3D for movies that don't have wisecracking vampires named Jerry.


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Scott Roberts
Re: Fright Night
on Aug 24, 2011 at 4:18:34 pm

[Tim Wilson] "It was still a shockingly low budget ($35m), for both the look and the talent. They were clearly all in it for reals."

Yeah, I'm sad it kind of bombed in the box office. It's the sort of movie that I would also like to see more in theaters than others. And it was only made for 1/3 the production cost as its "release-mate" Conan the Barbarian (which bombed just as bad, or in ratio to its respective budget, much much worse). I'm sure Fright Night will make all its money back before the end of its theatrical run, and eventually turn a profit on home video. It was slow weekend for movies in general it looks like (The Help won #1 with just $20 million).

[Tim Wilson] "Actually, no. It was shot to be dark. The director admitted that this really limited the depth they could use on the 3D, but would rather sacrifice that than go artificially bright."

That's probably for the best. I assume most people will be seeing the non-3D DVD version of Fright Night as opposed to paying to see this in 3D in theaters.


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