Movie Review: "Fright Night"

I remember growing up and going to the movies with my cousins. Sometimes we would go see the movie we paid for and other times see something our parents didn’t want us too. ‘Fright Night’ was one of those movies. This was 1985 and it was to be a big deal to see this horror movie. I couldn’t sleep well for days thinking our neighbor was a vampire. I digress as it is 2011 and this is the new ‘Fright Night’, updated for a new generation and some fun for those of us fans of the original.

Director Craig Gillespie (Mr. Woodcock, Lars and the Real Girl) steps in with the original writer/director Tom Holland with Marti Nixon (I Am Number Four) to scare and poke fun anew.

Another forgetful day in Vegas, or is it? High school senior Charley and his hot girlfriend Amy are going to school as usual. But is everyone there? A few of their schoolmates haven’t been to school. Ed is Charley’s boyhood chum whom Charley doesn’t see too much anymore, something that tends to happen during high school. Ed has a theory as to why they are missing and needs Charley’s help. Ed knows the truth about Charley’s new neighbor, Jerry, he’s a vampire. With the help of Peter Vincent an occult Vegas magician and a little luck, Charley will save his mom, girlfriend and who knows along the way.

Gillespie has done an outstanding work that would make any horror buff proud. In a day where everyone is doing a remake, and not always in a good way, he has done justice to the integrity of Holland’s original. Even with the addition of 3D the story wills out over having to do the cheap 3D tricks. Yes there are a few but within the context they are shot they work very well. This can be attributed to Nixon who is no stranger to keeping a story in check and not getting out of line.

As the story is important, it takes actors to bring it to life in a talented and fun group of individuals. Charley is played by Anton Yelchin (Charlie Bartlett, Star Trek). His boyish looks lend to his ability to be that high school kid who is caught up in something way above his head. Playing the, everybody wants her, girlfriend Amy is Imogen Poots (Jane Eyre, Centurion). Poots is as in past films playing the part to a tee. I am still waiting for her to burst through doing good parts and hitting her potential.

Keeping the bit if comedy in the film is Ed, the ever persistent friend who knows what’s going on, is played by the always baby faced Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kick Ass). This is in no way downplaying Christopher’s acting skills. He is a consummate actor who is stereotyped as the ‘nerd/geek’ kid, very reminiscent of fellow actor Alan Ruck.

Yet this would not be the horror film without the villain, in this case, Jerry played by Colin Farrell (Alexander, Horrible Bosses). Farrell is just ultra creepy as Jerry. This is in no way a slap to the original actor Chris Sarandon who played Jerry and has a great cameo. Let’s just say payback is a…. Farrell has just been fantastic as of late when he can exude a deep dark thought and keep making it more and more edgy. You can see in his performance that he is enjoying the mind games he plays with Charley.

The film is chock full of talent supporting this cast and exciting film. Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine, The Sixth Sense) as Charley’s single mother who just wants the best for her son and David Tennant (Doctor Who) as Peter Vincent the occultist magician with a secret past.

Since this is a horror film it would be insensitive of me not to chat about the special effects, make up and all that went into keeping you wondering “what’s next”.  From the opening scene you are exposed to the mastery of a highly creative team. From the title trailing across the screen as fresh blood to the morphing of Farrell into the vampire, the attention to detail is prominent. It goes back to my note about the 3D, in that it was not over used and when it was it was not just to do it but do it with purpose. The music enthralls you and makes the hair on the back of your neck tingle. The gore factor is not overdone and helps draw you into the story.

As I have said, great applause to Gillespie and his team for taking the remake mantle and not doing a par level film. Taking the time and effort to make this film their own and bring to the theater a compelling horror film that stands on its own. Congrats to all of you for making a grown man jump in his seat.

Again this is a horror film set for the teens of today’s generation. For those of us who saw the original it is a great look at connecting with that generation. This is a coming of age story hidden in the hellish nightmare of confronting a vampire. Charley, even though still a child, is the man of his house must protect what he loves no matter the cost. Something a child should not have to do. The original took place at a time when there was a lot of single mom’s making headway in society, my mom being one of those mothers and I, just like Charley was the man of the house. Today’s film is still prominent as we are seeing the single mom take the fore front of our society again, this time maybe stronger than before. This means even more kids growing up faster than they should, like I did. This is not a bad thing, just a little tough when you lose a bit of your childhood because responsibilities stack up faster. As a child you should be able to enjoy the ability to be just that a child and not take on the full responsibilities of an adult until they truly need to be, after high school.

Follow my entertainment adventures throughout Southern California on Twitter @SCThrillsMarc.

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