Having never seen the original “Fright Night”, I had no idea what genre of movie it truly fit in. Was it a terrifying horror film? A comedic twist on the genre? A teen flick? In reality, there are bits of all the genres scattered around, dwelling on none of them long enough to feel oversaturated or clichéd.
When the movie begins, Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is dating the hottest girl in school, Amy (Imogene Poots); and his single mother (Toni Collette) is finishing the sales of all the newly built houses in their remote subdivision. Charlie is approached by his nerdy ex-best friend, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who not only rails on him for becoming a jerk, but also lets him know that Charlie’s new neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell), is a vampire. While skeptical at first, Charlie becomes suspicious by the disappearances of kids at school, including Ed, and the strange nature of Jerry. Charlie finally goes to Criss Angel-esque Vegas showman Peter Vincent (David Tennant) to find a way to kill Jerry.
While there are quite a few scares and horror moments , this movie felt more like a thriller than a horror movie, at least by today’s standards. This movie had more in common with the vampire movies of “Dracula” (1931) and “Nosferatu” (1922) than the “Twilight” movies or “Interview with a Vampire”. This also goes for the cinematography and lighting of “Fright Night”. This movie was shot on a Red camera, which is a top of the line digital video camera that recreates the feeling of a film camera. You know, how when you see a made-for-TV movie how something just isn’t quite right-looking? That’s gone. Instead, the Red makes a stunningly sharp image, but still allows for tremendous depth-of-field. The eerie darkness of Jerry’s house is lit only by shafts of light puncturing the black painted windows. These shafts of light are so dynamic that I f- or a moment – I wished I had seen it in 3D. But only for a moment, because the 3D is NOT worth the money. The movie works just fine in 2D and the 3D resorts to cheap tricks like throwing a paint can at the screen. In slow motion. Really.
I thought the pacing of the movie worked very well. At no time did I ever feel like the movie was too slow or feel like I was being treated as an idiot. So many movies nowadays would feel the need to verbally explain or show everything, instead of letting it be shown with the actor’s facial expression or production design. “Fright Night” was amazingly subtle, which worked so well for what was being conveyed. At least half of the terror of the movie comes from tension building, from scene where Jerry stands on Charlie’s doorstep, unable to enter without being invited, to Charlie sneaking out of Jerry’s house when he arrives home unexpectedly.
Others who have seen the movie say that Charlie is too unlikable as a character because of the way he handles his popularity, but I disagree. First of all, what high school student isn’t allured by the thought of popularity and been seduced when the offer is given? But even when he is popular, he still wears puce colored basketball shoes and drinks caramel macchiatos – even if the popular guys make fun of him. That means he’s got some measure still of self-worth. Anton Yelchin is definitely an actor to watch for in the next few years. He has the ability to make very subtle facial expressions that tell quite a lot about what he feeling or thinking. Also, any man who has the ability to shed the “single manly tear” is talented in my book. Especially if the tear is when he has to stake his girlfriend.
Speaking of which, a lot of trouble has been given for Amy – who seems to have a good head on her shoulders – having wanted to date the formerly nerdy boy. As a woman, I can say that any girl with even an ounce of self-respect and intelligence would not want to date the incredibly and obviously douchy popular guys of that school. Imogene Poots (is so fun to say her last name) does very well in the roll as well, as both a normal, sweet and funny, teenage girl and a reeeeallly creepy vampire. As the latter, she twirls and hops around almost like a young girl – who can rip your throat out. And the scene where SHE cries is heartbreaking.
The character of this movie who did not work at all for me was Ed. Ed is creepy – not in a good way – and makes the viewer feel uncomfortable more than empathize for his lonely existence. Mintz-Plasse brings humor to the role, but in the end, it is too over the top to succeed.
Jerry the vampire is very, well, buff and naturally all the girls go for him. But he is also disturbing. He stands around hunched over leering and sniffing everyone and no one finds that odd? I would have liked it better to have had a scene where the existence of Jerry as a vampire was questioned, instead of the extreme obviousness of his being a vampire when they first meet. Still, it works, and the eeriness of his facial expressions adds a lot to the character.
Peter Vincent is so over-the-top emo and crude, and is so works for a Vegas showman. He ends up having a quality character arc and backstory, and his standoff with Jerry is very rewarding. I’ve never seen a man before be addicted to Midori, but it was an cool touch. Ah, David Tennant. I really can’t make up mind what to say. On one hand he was exactly like the Doctor. On the other hand…he was exactly like the Doctor. Well, (think that world in his voice) he was cruder. Every word out of his mouth made me think of the Doctor – and it did provide all Doctor Who fans with a lot of giggles. However, I think I would have liked to have seen him create more of a different character, as he is so talented.
One last note, I really loved how the theme music used in the opening credits was an organ driven silent-movie type song, and that throughout the movie, the song was played more and more heavy metal. It added a nice bridge to the evolution of the vampire genre. Also, the rules of vampire lore are largely kept traditional – except for crucifixes and shapeshifting – including no sunlight, theory of bloodlines, stake though the heart, holy water, fire, etc. All these components together make Fright Night a fitting homage to the original type vampire movie, found in “Nosferatu” and “Dracula”.
Run time: 106 minutes
Rated: R for language, violence