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Fright Night

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Survival/Horror
Publisher: DreamWorks
Release Date: Aug. 19, 2011


Movie Review - 'Fright Night'

by Adam Pavlacka on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 12:35 a.m. PDT

Senior Charley Brewster has it all. He's running with the popular crowd and dating the hottest girl in high school. Trouble arrives when an intriguing stranger moves in next door. He seems like a great guy at first, but there's something not quite right about him ...

A remake of the '80s film of the same name, "Fright Night" tells the story of an average teenager living in the suburbs, but this teenager has something of a supernatural problem. A vampire has moved in next door, and he's snacking on the neighborhood.

Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) doesn't notice anything odd at first. Sure, kids haven't been showing up at school, but that's what kids do — cut class. It isn't until his best friend, "Evil" Ed Lee (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), disappears that Brewster starts to realize that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Pulling from a number of '80s film tropes, "Fright Night" is both an enjoyable supernatural romp as well as an homage to the lighthearted comedy horror flicks of the past. Gore is minimal, humor is played for laughs and the fourth wall even gets broken at one point. The actors never quite cross the line into unbearable cheese, but it's quite obvious that all of them were having fun when filming this one.

Yelchin puts in a believable performance as the "everyman" teen whose primary worry is keeping his mom and girlfriend safe, but Colin Farrell as Jerry the vampire and David Tennant as vampire hunter Peter Vincent really shine. Farrell plays Jerry to the arrogant hilt. He's a vampire who knows he's better than anyone around him and isn't afraid to toy with Brewster or Lee.

Rather than simply go in for the kill, Jerry taunts his prey both physically and verbally. The fact that Brewster knows his secret doesn't worry Jerry in the least. Instead, it just adds another layer to the game. Whether Jerry is flirting with Brewster's single mother (Toni Collette) or going face-to-face with the reluctant hero, Farrell gives him all the mannerisms of a cat toying with a mouse.

Knowing he's outmatched, Brewster turns to Vincent for help. A vampire hunter-turned-Vegas showman, Tennant plays Vincent as the exact opposite of Farrell's cool and calculating Jerry. Whereas the vampire is always collected and methodical, Tennant brings to the character of Vincent the same manic energy he used during his run as Doctor Who. Randomly switching from topic to topic while mildly inebriated, Vincent is the master of the non-sequitur and the comic relief for the film. What makes it work is the fact that although Tennant plays him for laughs, the character is always deadly serious. It's a dichotomy that not every actor can pull off.

With such a cast of colorful characters, "Fright Night" works best when they are all on-screen interacting with each other. The movie hits a lull in the center bit during an extended chase sequence, but aside from that, the pacing is pretty solid.

Given that "Fright Night" is an '80s film at heart, it relies on sudden "gotcha" moments for most of the frights. The same is true of the 3-D effects. If you go for the standard 2-D showing, you're not going to miss out on much, but if you do spring for the 3-D, expect to see a number of items shooting out of the screen right at the audience. Aside from a scene with floating embers, which ends up looking really well done in 3-D, the rest of the depth effects are there for shock value.

In the end, "Fright Night" is a film that exists purely as a form of escapist entertainment. If you're looking for deep meaning or riveting cinema, look elsewhere. But if you just want to wander into the theater, check your brain at the door and enjoy the ride, then "Fright Night" may be right up your alley. It's a vampire movie for the non-Twilight set.

Score: 7.0/10

"Fright Night" is rated R and has a running time of 1 hour and 46 minutes. It is showing in 2-D and 3-D.

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