Fright Night--A Review
David Tennant as Peter Vincent, Vampire Slayer
Welcome to a Fright Night Review
FRIGHT NIGHT (3 stars out of 5)
It's good to have evil vampires back. The blood-sucking antagonist of director Craig Gillespie's new Fright Night remake is not angst-ridden or lovelorn or reluctant. He and his fellow vamps are hard-core predators with no reservations about chowing down on their next-door neighbor. The Fright Night creatures-of-the-night are more Dracula than Edward. It's good to have them back!
It was written by Marti Noxon--who worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel--a woman has a few vampires in her resume. She keeps the basic premise of the first Fright Night film but adds more action than the first version. The original 1985 Fright Night has become a cult favorite among vampire aficionados. This film is not as good as the original but it's still a campy, creepy monster movie that genre fans should enjoy. It's a flawed movie, no doubt, but it delivers what it needs to.
Anton Yelchin (Best known for playing Ensign Chekhov in the Star Trek remake) is Charlie, a formerly nerdy kid who manages to get the school hottie Amy (Imogen Poots) to go steady with him, raising his social status up into Coolsville. He is now part of the popular crowd, much to the chagrin of his geeky former best-buddy Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who Charlie is avoiding. Charlie should be listening to Ed, however, because Ed seems to be the only one in town who notices the pattern of disappearances of local families. Most people are willing to chalk up the vanishing people to the transient nature of people who live in this Las Vegas suburb. Ed is dorky enough to believe in vampires and puts the pieces together. No one believes him, not his his former pal Charlie.
Ed tries to warn Charlie that his elusive new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell, taking on the role played by Chris Sarandon in the original) is a fanged fiend. Ed points out that Jerry keeps his windows covered up all day but Charlie points out that this is a usual Las Vegas habit because so many people there work on the strip at night and sleep during the day. Ed insists that Jerry is turning the population into happy meals. Charlie scoffs. But when Ed disappears, Charley starts to investigate and comes to realize that he should have heeded the warnings sooner, because there's a monster living next door. Charlie's mother (Toni Collette) is charmed by the handsome Jerry and doesn't believe Charlie's ramblings about vampires.
When evil Jerry realizes that Charlie is on to him, he taunts and stalks the kid. The desperate Charlie goes to see popular stage magician Peter Vincent who is appearing in Vegas, and who advertises himself as the worlds foremost expert in the supernatural. Peter Vincent--who was played by Roddy McDowell in the old version--is portrayed here by David Tennant (former star of the BBC hit sci-fi series Doctor Who) as a cross between Chris Angel and a burnt-out rock star. Charlie is disappointed when he meets the so-called master of darkness , who is actually a sad drunk with a secret tragedy in his past.
The first half of the film is very well done as the tension slowly escalates and Charlie becomes increasingly terrified of his dangerous neighbor. However, halfway through the film, it tends to get out of hand, with explosions, car chases, lots of special effects and blood. The excesses and sometimes unintentional humor make the second half of the film less effective than the first but there are still some good moments in the latter half. The final confrontation where Charlie and Peter go to rescue the kidnapped Amy is lively and suspenseful.
Colin Farrell is less suave and sophisticated than Chris Sarandon was in the role, but he is sufficiently menacing and much creepier. David Tennant is a scene-stealer as Vincent. His interpretation of the character is a far cry from Roddy McDowell's gentleman actor in the original but the twist works well enough. Yelchin is fine in the lead role but nothing special.
The film clearly has a lot of problems. For instance, Charlie can't go to the police to report a vampire on the loose, but why doesn't he summon the cops when Jerry does things that are clearly illegal, even for non-vampires, like blowing up people's houses? And why does no one in the neighborhood notice the strange things going on in front of Jerry's house, such as when he kills two guys in a parked car, or when a female vampire explodes on his front lawn?
Despite it's flaws, and fact that the second half of the film loses it's focus, Fright Night still manages to deliver a sufficiently tense, spooky, creepy film about about a monster living in suburbia. David Tennant is a lot of fun as Peter Vincent and there are enough suspenseful moments to make up for the silly ones.
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