Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Synopsis: An update of the 1985 film of the same name, Fright Night sees a vampire named Jerry (Farrell) move next door to teenager Charley Brewster (Yelchin). He refuses to heed the warnings of former best friend Ed (Mintz-Plasse), only to end up with Jerry not only terrorising him, but his mother (Collette) and girlfriend (Poots) as well. When out of all other options he seeks assistance from celebrity vampire killer Peter Vincent (Tennant).
Before I write anything else, this review is written with no prior knowledge about the original film, and as such, this review will make no comparisons, and only judge this film on its merits alone. On this basis, I can say that, though the film had many elements of cliché, and overall contains very little of the purported comedy, but it does work on the level of a chilling horror which is immensely watchable from beginning to end.
The main strength of this piece is Farrell. He imbues Jerry with a quiet menace, the certain sense that there is something below the surface. In fact, he is perhaps most menacing when the fangs are not out. If is great so se him in some interesting films again, showing that when paired with the right material, he can be a very fun actor to watch. Speaking of fun actors, I come to the other out there character in the film, Tennant’s Peter Vincent. Being a true Doctor Who fan, it was Tennant’s presence which interested me in the film in the first place. He does provide many of the comedy elements, and he plays a brilliant character. There is a problem with this though. The character is very out of step with the rest of the film, almost seeming to be from a different movie. Tennant is great to watch regardless, but in the end the role does detract from the rest of the proceedings. Yelchin often gets overshadowed by both Farrell and Tennant, but this is the consequence of being the straight man. His fear and moments of truly freaking out though do show that he is well cast in the role of protagonist.
The rest of the cast, despite containing some talent, is merely window dressing, but in the very least it is effective window dressing such that Charley’s world is realistically populated. Collette is a sympathetic other whom has a very strong grasp of her son’s past and personality. Poots was clearly cast largely for looks, and does not bring a lot from the table, but like Yelchin she effectively does everything that is needed from her performance, even if it does not really stand out. Mintz-Plasse plays the same role as he does in every film. It is easy stuff for him, so his scenes work. It will be a shock the moment he breaks out of this trend though. It is getting to the point of wondering whether he can perform any other role.
What does really make this film fun is the atmosphere that is established throughout. Though there is comedy present, with Twilight references and David Tennant’s foul-mouthed drunken “expert”, these elements never subtract from the haunting set up that is established early in the film. The music is spooky, scenery is dark, and though there is nothing that stands out in this cinematography and score that has not been done before, the mistake is never made to go too far.
Marti Noxon has a screenplay credit on this film, so it was interesting to see how toned down the comedy really was. She continues to be a screen-writer of talent long after her days pairing with Joss Whedon on Buffy have passed. She may be working with vampires again, but this film is quite different to Buffy in general, unless you count episodes such as Hush in that equation of course!!
There is nothing new in this film, but sometimes there does not need to be. Fright Night does all it needs to do to generate an edge of your seat adrenaline rush, which is exactly what we all go to horror movies for in the first place.
3.5 stars out of 5