Wednesday, 18 April 2012

2 Weeks of Movies - Fright Night!

Fright Night - 7.5/10


(some spoilers!)

I have watched the original Fright Night a couple of times when I was younger, but it was many years ago now and I can’t remember it that well. Nevertheless, I remember it being very good. That is a dangerous attitude to go into a remake with. That sense of not-quite-remembered nostalgia – you don’t really recall what happened in it, but you know damn sure that no remake is going to be as good. I tried to leave this dangerous attitude at the door. Misplaced nostalgia is not a good thing.

So, with that said, the remake of Fright Night stands very well on its own terms. It is a good movie. It’s fun, cheeky, and has an attitude. There haven’t been many vampire films with actual bite recently (excuse the really bad pun there), but this is one. This is what you show your teenage sister when she says she wants to watch a vampire film and expects Edward Cullen. Edward Cullen she will not get. What she will get is Colin Farrell giving a fantastic performance as Jerry (yes, Jerry the Vampire. Hey, it’s not as bad as Quincey!), the unapologetically evil vampire and dangerous charmer who’s moved in next door and begun preying on your neighbours.

Samantha Marx, Flickr
The acting in this film is very good; Colin Farrell gives Jerry the right amount of sexy menace and pure, sadistic evil. David Tenant is well cast as Peter Vincent, and the character of Charley is believable and likeable throughout. Even the girlfriend is surprisingly sympathetic. I thought she was going to be the typical ‘popular bitch’ of teen movies, but she actually refused to be pushed into any kind of stereotypical role. She wasn’t a piece of screaming meat that had to be constantly saved, but she wasn’t all-action-Buffy either (I happen to really like Buffy, but there is a time and place and this movie would not have been it). This was refreshing.

Fright Night isn’t scary – it’s far too camp for that – but it certainly doesn’t hold back on the blood, guts and horror. It reminds me of old 80s horrors, the ones that were more fun and tongue-in-cheek with their scares, slightly sending up their own genre while indulging in it at the same time. This is really fun stuff, and I think it does a good job of capturing the feel and intention of the original, even if the story has been reworked a little. Most of all, the film is exactly what is needed right now: a vampire story that does not take itself too seriously, and doesn’t portray the vamp as the good guy. Jerry isn’t angsty, tortured or lovesick, but he also isn’t ‘super-badass, blood-shall-rain-from-the-sky, ancient-prophecy-fulfilling’ evil either. He just really likes to drink people’s blood.

mugley, Flickr
However, there are bits where the film could have been better. I thought that it had some pacing issues, and a little too much running around being scared. I loved the claustrophobic feel of the first half of the film, which stayed in the neighbourhood and focussed on the increasing sense of menace closing in on Charley’s house. I would have liked it to stay here, bringing Peter Vincent to us rather than seeking him out. I seem to remember that this was the case with the original? I also seem to remember that Charley’s mother and girlfriend stayed in the dark longer about Jerry’s true nature. In fact, was his mother ever aware? This is where the aforementioned dangerous nostalgia begins to creep in. But, either way, whether it was true of the original or not, this film might have benefitted from a bit more of Charley having to combat Jerry on his own, desperately trying to convince everyone that Jerry is a monster. This is the premise, after all, and it’s a good one. There are enough ‘running away scared, trying to survive movies’ out there. However, I think the ‘running away scared’ in this movie was purely an excuse to visit Peter Vincent’s wacky house, and to fight off the vampires with some cool ancient weaponry. A nail from the cross, a wooden stake blessed by Saint Peter or whatever it was? A bit unnecessary perhaps, but I guess it adds something a bit new.

Still, these are minor points in a good movie, and they don’t stop it from being great fun! My advice? Don’t go into it expecting it to be the original. And definitely don’t go into it with your nostalgia goggles on. Watch it on its own terms, and have fun with it!

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