Hump Day is here, and that means my life needs just a tad more horror in it. Up this week is Fright Night.
Sorry ’bout that. This here be the film I’m reviewing.
Some quick facts and stats:
The stars I can name: Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin (who to be honest, I could not have named if not for his impeccable role as Chekov … nuclear vessels .. If you DIDN’T read that in Chekov’s accent, you are NOT as much of a nerd as I am), and The Doctor himself, David Tennant. Then there’s some other people I don’t know. Feel free to browse the cast list at the movie’s IMDB page for more info.
Let’s get started, shall we?
First, it is a rare moment when I end a film, any film, ready to rewind and watch it again. (That’s kind of old school for some of you young’uns who’ve never seen a VHS. Rewind, you ask? Well, it’s this thing where you wait an eternity only to find the video machine has come alive and destroyed everything you loved..) But I ended this movie so pumped I went through each section of the menu wishing there was more to watch (aside from a pretty funny blooper reel).
Second, this movie made me realize I’ve never written a vampire story. That’s something that needs to be fixed. Like now.
But back to the film… It opens with Peter Vincent’s show Fright Night, revealed to be a Criss Angel like stage show in Vegas. I have to admit, I really enjoyed the way the directors and writers updated the film. I didn’t know what to expect going in. I have figured it’d be an iffy shot-by-shot remake. Instead they took their time to think of how the movie would look if it were produced today. Peter Vincent is Criss Angel, Charley Brewster is a former-nerd-turned-douchebag-to-get-the-girl, Evil Ed is a nerdy Evil Ed, and Jerry is as malicious and violent as you’d expect a vampire in 2011 to be, more in line with the vampires of 30 Days of Night than with the more… romantized *cough–#*$holes–cough* of Twilight.
Anton Yelchin as Charley was passably entertaining. Or let me rephrase — he actually played a former-dweeb-turned-d’bag really well. It’s hard to be sympathetic for him in the beginning, but he becomes more likable when he gets down to business later. As well, Amy (who plays her? Some blonde.. name was Imogen Poots I think.. Wait, I’m dying laughing.. Yes, I do remember her name. Poots is a hilarious last name. I’m sorry, Imogen, but at once I’m happy you’re doing well with that. Also, a brief Google search reveals she was in 28 Weeks Later. She was the annoying older sister who started all the trouble in the first place) is passable as a ridiculously-hot teenager girl dating what is ostensibly a loser.
But really, the best performances in this remake are by Colin Farrell and David Tennant. I would’ve been happier with way more Jerry and Peter Vincent screen time.
Farrell’s Jerry isn’t the same sexual predator that Chris Sarandon’s was. (That scene in the 1985 film, between Jerry and Amy on the dance floor STILL makes me feel as uncomfortable as though I were 12 and watching it with my parents.) Farrell’s Jerry is violent and thirsty. When he sucks blood there’s little sexual gratification in it. It’s all about hunger and dominance, whereas Chris Sarandon’s vampire was about survival. Recall, if you will, that in 1985 Jerry offered Charley the chance to just forget that he was a vampire, they’d stay out of each other’s business and he’d get to live – as well as his loved ones. But in the original, Charley felt morally bound to stop the vampire before he fed on any more innocent people. In this version, I could buy if this Charley accepted that offer. He seems intent in the beginning on just keeping out Jerry, not destroying him.
David Tennant as Peter Vincent was superb. I couldn’t sum up his performance adequately. He makes me reconsider ever wearing leather pants — not that I have or was actually considering that, but I’ll definitely forego it for sure now.
Performances aside, the story had the same premise, but really managed to convey a sense that it was a film in its own right, too. I think there’ s some interesting changes to characters (Peter Vincent gets a little more backstory and a wicked awesome Vegas apartment… penthouse suite.. something) and to the explanation of vampires (and Jerry) in particular. The CGI and special effects are great. The vampires are scary, not sparkling, and all is right in the world.
If you’re a fan of Fright Night or real vampires, you’ll enjoy it. If you prefer nighttime preternatural beasts that sparkle, well, that’s your prerogative, now isn’t it?