Sunday, October 7, 2012

30 Days of Fright - 06: Fright Night (2011)

Back in the mid-nineties there was a band called Space who released a song called Neighbourhood. In this song, they detailed all the little secrets of the people living in their area, spilling the beans on how everyone in the locale was mad in their own little way. I like this tune because I like the idea that you can never tell what dirty little goings on occur behind closed doors. There's something delicious about the notion that on those who go out and about wearing a mask of respectability could be up to anything when they're at home, and whatever it is it's probably disgusting!

Who lives in a house like this...?

Set in a very odd suburb of Las Vegas, Fright Night (2011) opens with a teenage boy roaming around his house during what appears to be a bloody home invasion. His parents and sister are dead and he seeks refuge from their attackers by hiding under his parents bed, a not altogether stupid strategy as his Dad keeps a gun under the mattress. As he struggles with the trigger lock, the bed is pulled away and he is taken by the attacker, who doesn't look at all like your regular criminal.

The next young man we meet is Charley (played by Anton Yelchin - you may know him as Chekov from the latest Star Trek movie), an apparently quite popular young lad who's popularity is growing further thanks to his romantic entanglement with the attractive Amy (played by Imogen Poots - you may know her as Tammy, the girl from 28 Weeks Later). Charley lives with his mother Jane in that same unusual suburb after his Dad did a runner. Jane is a real estate agent and she's just off loaded the house next door to construction worker Jerry (played by Colin Farrell - you may know him from Daredevil or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus). Jerry is a bit of a charmer and manages to catch Jane's eye though at first this doesn't bother Charley as Jerry seems pretty cool.

At school, Charley's social status has been steadily improving ever since he started shunning his geeky friends in favour of a more in crowd, which seems to have been a factor in his snaring Amy as a girlfriend. However, one of his old nerdy chums, Ed (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse who you may know as Red Mist from Kick-Ass), just won't go away and Charley is forced into talking to him. Ed is worried about the number of kids who've been missing school lately and wants Charley to come with him to find out if one of them, who Ed and Charley once hung out with, is OK.

Their investigation reveals nothing, as the friends house is deserted. Ed reveals that he has a theory about the kids and Charley's new neighbour. He's convinced that Jerry is in fact a vampire and he's the reason so many are missing. Charley decides that enough's enough and goes home, leaving Ed to get home himself. On the way, Ed runs into Jerry who is in fact a creature of the night and who turns Ed into a bloodsucker.With Ed now missing, Charley slowly starts to believe that there might be something suspicious about the pale man next door who only works after dark and won't come in unless he's invited...

Charley didn't realise that crucifixes have no power over Irish guys in their mid-thirties

The 2011 edition of Fright Night is a loyal update of the 1985 original, but not just in terms of following the original script, but also by keeping true to the spirit of the first movie. The story is faithfully handled and modernised nicely without trampling all over the important elements, and while it wasn't a slavish adaptation there were some very recognisable parts up to whole scenes that came almost straight from the '85 flick.

The Acting was all top-notch with David Tennant providing a real surprise, and a good one as he was excellent as the re-imagined Peter Vincent (this time an extreme magician type who collects supernatural stuff as opposed to a late-night TV show host). Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots both handled their roles very well, though it was a little hard at times to believe that a bloke like him was going out with a girl like her.

There is a high level of humour in Fright Night but, much like the original, it's sometimes pretty subtle so I'm not sure if you could classify Fright Night as a flat-out comedy, it's more like a light hearted horror. A film like that could never deliver any real scares and Fright Night is no exception; this is a film about fun with only mild hints of horror, though the way the way Jerry holds onto his victims for a while in order to feed off them slowly is a pretty disturbing thought.

The whole production is stylishly crafted, and I particularly liked the graphics and music used for the opening and end credits which included one of those songs that features sound clips from the film, the type of track that was once really popular in the 1980's but that you don't get with a lot of films any more.

Fight Night would have gotten my top rating but for two things. Firstly, it was made for 3D so there's too many shots of things flying towards the viewer, blood splatters and the like. This leads to the second problem, as in order to get those splatters to go in the right direction it was necessary to turn to CGI to get the job done. While the effects department had the PC warmed up for that task, they then decided to do a few other bits and pieces, including some of the vampire effects, which is unfortunate as it severely reduced the impact of the vampires by making them more like something from a Sci Fi film then a horror; a solid make-up effect would have been a much better choice.

Sadly, these shortcomings are enough to lower the score as they do break you out of the action as you shout "for fuck's sake" at the screen every time it happens, but they don't ruin the film entirely. The remake of Fright Night is an enjoyable, fun, and stylish movie that keeps the vampire tradition alive, much like the original did.

Two Thumbs Up for Fright Night (2011)

Hiya Colin Farrell - all the Links say he's pretty fly... for an Irish guy:

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