Fright Night

This blog could (and has) been accused of many things. Extra-terrestrial bias is the latest in the worryingly long list of problems people have with my scrawlings. Looking back, my August output does read like the chapter headings in a filthy conspiracy theorist’s equally filthy notebook, so here’s some vampire shite instead. Also, it’s The Popcorn Bucket‘s third anniversary. Hooray for that and indeed, me.

Fright Night (2011)

Straight off the bat, let me just say a couple of things that may or may not change your opinion on the rest of my review. Firstly, I haven’t seen the original 1985 film. From what I can gather with minimal Internet research, it’s a fairly schlocky light horror/comedy film with the exact premise this one has. Personally, I only know it from the fact that the VHS cover used to scare me when I was a kid. Secondly, if you’re a newcomer to this hateful little slice of the ‘Net, you should know that horror and I don’t exactly get on. With most “scary” films, I find my eyes are rolling too much to focus on the fact that Nubile Teen #3 just got her throat ripped out by a bloody fog monster or other somesuch nonsense. Therefore, I tend to approach a film that proudly wears its “’80s horror remake” badge alongside its neon “I’m in 3D Muthafuckers!” one with the same enthusiasm as I would a proffered toenail and pre-cum panini.

He’s not brooding, or lovesick, he’s the fucking shark from Jaws.”

Teenaged Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) has had a recent reversal of fortune. He’s dumped his geek friends, including bespectacled dork Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and is now going out with a hot, popular girl Amy (Imogen Poots) and enjoying all the perks that come with it. All of this starts to change when Jerry (Colin Farrell) moves into the neighbourhood and Brewster’s suspicions start to grow that not only are vampires real, he may be living next door to one. Out of desperation, Charley turns to Vegas occult showman Peter Vincent (David Tennant) to help with this unusual, but frightening turn of events. The film plays the whole “vampire living next door” thing with the tongue-in-cheek irreverence one would expect from such a daft premise. Overall, the story was alright but it had a slightly parodic edge to it which I liked. The cast are fine. Yelchin proves to be a likeable, if not relatable, lead. Poots isn’t given much more to do than look pretty and Mintz-Plasse is doing his McLovin routine, which he has down to a fine art. The main talking points though will be Farrell and Tennant. I thought Farrell was great, clearly having fun as the predatory Jerry. I liked Tennant, but just wished he was given better jokes and had done something more than giving a Russell Brand-esque performance where there are no real punchlines outside of swearing.

There are a couple of things that caught me off-guard in this film. Maybe it’s because we’ve all become used to pussy sparkling vampires, but this incarnation has significantly more bite (excuse the pun, I can’t think of a better way to describe it). Jerry is a fucking vicious creature and is responsible for most of the unsettling moments. I also liked the fact that the film didn’t waste time setting up its own take on the vampire tropes. It assumes you know all the classic preventions and ways of dispatching the bloodsuckers and just gets on with it. I can respect that. The way the film is shot is surprisingly decent too. Way better than one would expect for a horror remake. There’s a claustrophobic 360 degree shot in a car that stood out to me, although it loses some points considering it was augmented with CGI. The one in Children of Men was all practical and was much more effective. The film manages to be visually interesting and not hindered by being in 3D, which is an achievement.

So, the million-dollar question: it is scary? Well, not really. There are a few jump scares and the the film makes use of the completely unnecessary “third dimension” by having blood spatter occasionally. This isn’t a hardcore pants-shitter, but I was slightly disappointed by the distinct lack of “fright”. I was also really put off by the first 15 mins of the film. The dialogue was so fucking contrived and unnatural I felt like getting up from my seat and storming out, slapping any people who seemed to be enjoying it as I passed. Luckily for me and my currently unsullied police record, the film got better. Whilst I wasn’t scared by it, I still enjoyed it. Tennant and Farrell certainly make proceedings more entertaining and I felt the film lift when one or both of them were on-screen. The ending is a bit poor and has a perfect example of a Deus ex machina if ever I saw one. Without giving too much away, I liked the grim direction certain things were heading and to have it all magically resolve itself was a let-down.

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, and… that doesn’t leave much. Well… basically, Sushi and mini golf.”

So yeah, despite being a horror, a horror remake and being in fuckmothering 3D, Fright Night won me over. It’s not bad at all and way better than I was expecting it to be. Most of the issues I had with dialogue and plot were balanced out by the lead performances. It’s fun enough, but is hardly going to feature on my list of “Favouritest Films Evaarrrr”.

2 thoughts on “Fright Night”

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