Eunice does Fright Night (2011) [Remake Week]

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. That doesn’t narrow it down. That’s like, mini-golf and sushi.”

The Scoop: 2011 R, directed by Craig Gillespie and starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, and David Tennant

Tagline: You can’t run from evil when it lives next door.

Summary Capsule: Anemic neighbor with dental issues moves in next door to unfortunately observant teenager.

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Eunice’s Rating: It’s like the Star Trek/Dr. Who/Daredevil crossover vampire fanfic I always wanted to write!

Eunice’s Review: I have a confession to make. I’m a snob. I’m a snob concerning remakes. I have firmly in my mind that the remake is never better than the original, and rarely anywhere near as good. So that was my first problem with this Fright Night.

The second is, I know this may just be me, I find Colin Farrell completely repulsive. Not to the point where I refuse to watch a movie with him, but there’s something skeevy about him that I always feel like I need a vaccine before watching him or I might catch a disease. More than a little illogical, but there you have it.

If you don’t know the story, Charley lives in the suburbs with his single mom, has a girlfriend, and a friend that he’s a complete jerk to. His average life gets turned upside down when a new neighbor moves in next door. This neighbor is paler than most, only comes out at night, and people seem to disappear when he’s around. Past that the remake starts to pull away from the original.

In this Fright Night, the suburb is in Vegas, Peter Vincent is a goth-themed magician, and Charley isn’t the one to figure out the truth. The truth being that the neighbor, Jerry, is an honest to goodness vampire. Unfortunately for the friend, Evil Ed, Charley has decided to abandon their friendship in his quest become more popular, and he wants to become popular partly to keep his totally out of his league girlfriend Amy. So when Evil tells Charley that the disappearance of a third friend is because a cursed bloodsucker is on the loose and he wants help bringing the hellspawn down, there might be some blackmail involved. Charley is a patronizing tool, playing along so that he can go back to pretending he doesn’t know Evil.

That is until Evil also goes missing.

Charley starts to think that Jerry just might be a vampire. After a completely horrific occurrence (more on that later), Charley’s sense of reality tilts even further to the point where he goes to Peter Vincent, a big time Vegas illusionist who claims to be a true believer and expert in the occult. What Charley finds is a lazy disgusting diva poser. So Charley must figure out a way to stop Jerry and protect loved ones and the neighborhood.

I…

I…

Gosh darnnit! I liked this movie. … I liked it better than the first one. There, said it okay?!

There was one thing that the original always had going against it: Charley. Charley was a whole bunch of nouns that Justin would take away my mutant powers for putting in this review, gets outshined by Peter Vincent, and he didn’t make decisions so much as get moved around from one scene to the next by the script. Anton Yelchin’s Charley is firmly the main character. Don’t get me wrong this a horror comedy, but Charley goes on a heroic journey and makes choices and -just to throw it out there- actually likes his girlfriend. When Evil goes missing he can either not get involved or take up the mantle, he chooses the mantle and ends up a puce wearing hero.

And Peter Vincent? I will always love Roddy Mcdowall’s interpretation as a pride wounded thespian, but David Tennant is just so funny. He just is. He’s this rude obnoxious prima donna. He’s like a tantrum throwing bratty coward in nonbreathing leather pants, and he’s hilarious. Then there’s a twist with him, so that when you get to the end he’s totally awesome. And Charley and Peter’s chemistry is really good too.

I even liked Colin Farrell in it. He loves playing Jerry the vampire. Really really loves it. It’s all over the screen and you’d have to be blind not to see it. He’s so hammy and over the top (in a good way) that it makes me smile. (He’s still repulsive though) And Jerry loves being a vampire, like a lot, and that’s my favorite kind of vampire. I wouldn’t call him particularly menacing, but it’s more because he doesn’t really have to threaten anyone so much as just kill them. I like the ways he gets around the invitation rule. And they go through the trouble to explain why a vampire would come to this place, in this case Vegas, in a very logical manner (something that I can only really remember happening in 30 Days of Night). So another point for the movie.

Quick mention on the females. Amy is different from the original’s door mat, which warmed me up to the movie some more. I quite liked Imogen Poots here, she plays Amy as a good heart but no push over girl who likes Charley because he’s goofy and weird and treats her like she’s gold. The mom has a (admittedly minor) part instead of being a nonentity getting more points for having a parental figure who isn’t stupid, plus I’ve always had a soft spot for Toni Collette. Ginger isn’t a very big role, but Sandra Vergara is pretty funny as the high maintenance girlfriend to Tennant’s Peter Vincent in their dysfunctional relationship.

I’m a little torn on Evil Ed. I like the idea of this Ed, I really do. It’s a bit of a reversal from the original with Evil trying to convince Charley of the truth. Evil being a nerd on a mission getting some genuinely funny lines. But then that invisible line in my head gets crossed where it’s just a little too gross or vulgar (the Stretch Armstrong thing really pulled me out), and it doesn’t really fit the comedic tone in the rest of the movie. Feels like someone decided because it’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse (dude’s almost as old as I am, but still makes a convincing teenager? Weird.) it has to be there, and it’s just a shame because otherwise I was behind the character.

Even so, this movie is funny. I’d even say… funnier than the original, owing mostly to David Tennant, Colin Farrell, and it never taking itself too seriously. Reminded me a little of the first couple seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before it got all serious, but more R rated.

Does it deliver on the horror front? Not as far as being scary or full of tension, no. But it does have moments of true horror. I won’t spoil it, but the way the scene where Charley tries to save one of his neighbors ends was pretty shocking the first time I saw it, and the way you can tell Charley is totally in shock after becomes more terrible the more times I watch it or think about it (the whole scene’s pretty freaky). I really liked the end, some special effects aside, with Charley, Peter, and Jerry facing off. As far as amateur vampire hunters in the vampire den sort of scenes go, not too shabby.

No matter what version we’re talking about, Fright Night doesn’t exactly stand up to too much examination. But if you’re looking for a fun us vs. vampires sort of movie, this is pretty enjoyable.

And yes, it’s better than the original.

When I said “smile big for the camera,” not quite what I had in mind…

Intermission!

  • Chris Sarandon (Jerry in the ’85 Fright Night) has a cameo as the driver who gets killed near the end.
  • Speaking of, lots of little nods to the first one: Jerry’s love of apples, “Welcome to Fright Night, for real,” the night club scene, etc.
  • Lisa Loeb and that guy from a million commercials as Evil Ed’s parents.
  • Does this movie make anyone else think of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice movie with Nicholas Cage? It does me, but I can’t figure out why, they’re nothing alike, it’s weird.

Groovy Quotes

Jerry: It takes a real man to wear puce.

Charley: That is a terrible vampire name. Jerry?
Evil Ed: I didn’t name him, man. I’m just reporting the facts.

Charley: You read way too much Twilight.
Evil Ed: That’s fiction, okay, this is real. He’s a real monster and he’s not brooding, or lovesick, or noble. He’s the ******* shark from Jaws. He kills, he feeds, and he doesn’t stop until everybody around him is dead. And I seriously am so angry you think I read Twilight.

Peter Vincent: Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. That doesn’t narrow it down. That’s like, mini-golf and sushi.

Jerry: I don’t need an invitation if there’s no house.

Peter Vincent: How did you get in here?
Charley: Well security is a little lax since everybody got their throat torn out.

Peter Vincent: I’m a great date, get me drunk and I’ll try anything.

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2 Comments

  1. “And Peter Vincent? I will always love Roddy Mcdowall’s interpretation as a pride wounded thespian, but David Tennant is just so funny. He just is. He’s this rude obnoxious prima donna. He’s like a tantrum throwing bratty coward in nonbreathing leather pants, and he’s hilarious. Then there’s a twist with him, so that when you get to the end he’s totally awesome. And Charley and Peter’s chemistry is really good too.”

    You just made me decide to watch this.

  2. I, for one, am totally with you on the Colin Farrell-is-creepy thing. The guy continually comes off to me like a total, self-involved d-bag. But the funny thing is, for this movie — it works! Even before you know he’s a vampire, Jerry seems slightly off and unsettling, and his entire performance has elements of a sexual predator. I could see the character being equally scary without even being a vampire.

    As for reminding you of early seasons of Buffy, there’s a good reason for that — the writer, Marti Noxon, was a Buffy writer (and the showrunner for a few of the later seasons).

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