Friday, August 19, 2011

Film Review: Fright Night (2011)

Fright Night (2011)

Rated: R
Running Time: 106 min
Genres: Comedy | Horror

Anton Yelchin as Charley Brewster (Our Hero)
Colin Farrell as Jerry (The Villian)
Toni Collette as Jane Brewster (Our Hero's Mom)
David Tennant as Peter Vincent (Our Hero's Reluctant Sidekick)
Imogen Poots as Amy (Our Heroine and The Girl)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Ed (An Unfortunate Casualty)
along with Dave Franco, Reid Ewing, Will Denton, Sandra Vergara, Emily Montague, Chris Sarandon, Grace Phipps, Chelsea Tavares and a bunch of other people who are easily interchangeable for unknown actors who would give three years off the back of their life for the part, but who were passed over in favor of these people.

I saw the original Fright Night back in 1985 and liked it, so I was reluctant to see this one.  I was bored today and so decided to watch and write a review.  Here's my own not so humble opinion in several hundred words or less without spoilers.

I think the new version is just a little better.  For one thing the character Amy must play The Heroine as well as The Girl, and in 1985 Amanda Bearse (Al's whiny neurotic neighbor from Married... with Children) got the part, and well, she did The Girl pretty well but she failed as The Heroine and while she's kind of cute she isn't any man's idea of a red hot sex bomb looking for a place to go off.  The 2011 version has Imogen Poots as Amy, and while she may not be a ten she's looking good at nine point five.  By comparison, I think Christina Hendricks is a ten.  Maybe more important to this diatribe is Imogen's ability to play the part, which she does with a lot of energy at all the right times and in all the right places.

Dispensing with the extras, probably the weakest performance was turned in by Anton Yelchin as Charlie.  Not that he did badly, but there were times when the man was clearly fumbling around trying to decide what Charlie was supposed to be doing - or more likely, just how to do it.  By contrast, David Tennant does an outstanding job as Peter Vincent, famous vampire slayer and Olympic class cocktail hound.  Likewise Colin Farrell does a great job as Jerry the 400 year old vampire, and a few of the scenes are absolutely priceless.

The special effects have improved somewhat since 1985, and I'm happy to say the film takes advantage of this, but the effects are carefully thought out and not overdone.  This is one of the things that I enjoyed about the film, and another is the story.  The writers have improved upon the original in several meaningful ways, and it makes this film a lot better.  The character of the vampire has improved, or more correctly, been take closer to the original vampire, Dracula.  In the 1985 version, Jerry Dandrige was a cursed character who, when Charlie discovered he was a real live dirt napper, gained access to Charlie's home through guile, then confronted Charlie from a clearly superior position and offered Charlie "Something that I don't have... a choice."  This vampire would never do anything that namby-pamby.  I'm immortal, you're food.  Come over here and stop making a racket.  Nor is Jerry impeded by a daytime caretaker (Jonathan Stark/Billy Cole/1985); he gets everything done by himself and is smart enough to threaten Our Hero with the police if Our Hero doesn't cease and desist.  Bullets won't stop him, by the way.  Some folks just don't die easy. 

If you read my review and then go see the film, you'll likely consider walking out after the first 15 minutes and wondering just where I got the idea this was a good film.  Check the rating below and see that it isn't perfect.  The film starts life as a dead loser, then picks up from there.  I liked the film and I'll give it a solid 8 out of 10 on Mad Jack's Scale of Screen Excellence.  That means it's worth full price at the theater.


North said...

Breeewwwwwster! I remember the original.

Mad Jack said...

Yeah, good old Evil Ed. Evil gets a better part in this one, and the actor does a much better job with the Character.