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Overall Rating
3.56

Awesome: 21.21%
Worth A Look40.91%
Average: 22.73%
Pretty Bad: 3.03%
Total Crap: 12.12%

6 reviews, 30 user ratings


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Fright Night (2011)
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by Erik Childress

"Pay Attention, Platinum Dunes and Screen Gems"
4 stars

Every popular pasttime in the world comes with its own pre-ranked list; a big three if you will. Sports have baseball, football and basketball. Comic books have Batman, Superman and Spider-Man. Apologies to those that believe otherwise, but those are your "A" lists right there in terms of most viewed and well-known. Not that there's anything wrong with the "B" lists, mind you. If hockey and Iron Man are more your thing, God bless ya. For horror fans, the lists are equally debatable and likely even more contentious. Friday the 13th may be a crap series, but everybody knows it just as they do A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. While some of these series played through and dominated the 1980s, there were other horror films dawning a cult audience that have survived to this day. John Carpenter's The Thing and Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark are destined to make more top five lists of that genre's decade (if not all-time) than any one of the Jason Voorhees films. Pre-dating even Bigelow's revamp of the bloodsucker theme was Tom Holland's fantastic pre-meta, Fright Night, which adapted itself to the cliches while still churning out one helluva scary ride. In an era where Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes company and Screen Gems have been ruining much of horror's B-list, the announcement of this project - though not affiliated with either of those companies - sent nervous tingles and outrage through the necks of horror fans. Now that it's complete, they can actually rest easy for Craig Gillespie's remake pays absolute respect to the original while proving that there's enough to play with to garner a new generation of fans.

Seems a string of attacks are occurring in Las Vegas. And not the ones inside strip clubs or outside arenas during fight nights. High schooler Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is too occupied trying to make time with "out-of-his-league" girlfriend, Amy (the enormously fetching Imogen Poots). Too occupied even for his childhood pal, "Evil" Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a fantasy geek who believes he has tracked down the source of these missing people. It's the neighbor Charley and his mom (Toni Collette) just met. That would be Jerry (Colin Farrell) and as the film is quick to show us, he is indeed a vampire; cautious enough to redesign his home but not when it comes to killing people at dusk in the streets or even at a supermarket.

As the evidence mounts Charley does become intrigued enough to do some snooping; keeping Amy and mom at an arm's distance over his recent distracted nature. Jerry knows the kid is onto him, forcing Charley to seek outside help in Peter Vincent (David Tennant), updated from horror show host to a sin city illusionist with a stage show that blends elements of Criss Angel with the Stratosphere's "Bite." The cad with a room full of ancient vampire artifacts (that he bought on eBay) is little help at first, but when Jerry finds a way to send Charley and his loved ones out into the night, it is time for illusion to become reality.

This is a prevailing theme of the new Fright Night which former Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer, Marti Noxon, wisely incorporates it as a motivating factor for our sympathy. William Ragsdale's original Charley was kind of an average dweeb who was too easily distracted by horror films (and the coffin being moved in next door) to realize his girlfriend was ready to give herself to him. Anton Yelchin's Charley exhibits those same traits, but he is also introduced as kind of a jerk who has thrown his best friend away in favor of a cooler crowd. It's hardly an endearing setup, but little-by-little Noxon and Yelchin strip away another little piece of Charley's rationale behind growing up. Father abandonment issues aside (that Jerry casually observes), Charley will come to discover a kinship with Peter, whose illusions exist in his real life too in hiding a greater fear.

There might have been a true modern classic in the making had Moxon and director Craig Gillespie explored this central relationship further. Mostly it is used for comedy, and Tennant's performance is a true gas; more Russell Brand than Roddy McDowell's redemptive coward, but fun all the same. There's also much more for Collette as Charley's mom to participate in, particularly an extended War of the Worlds/Children of Men-like highway chase sequence that is a great centerpiece. They have also done a nice job at getting to the bottom of Evil Ed's outcast issues that came full circle in the original's alleyway seduction scene, and Mintz-Plasse does a solid job in making him sympathetic rather than just another annoying fanboy. He is a central force in Charley's arc and between this, The Beaver and his work in the upcoming Like Crazy, Anton Yelchin is slowly starting to shed some of the annoying insecurities in 2011 as an actor and a personality that has haunted the bulk of his previous work.

Though Tennant is likely to draw a lot of the acting attention here, there is a truly inspired performance at the forefront here by Colin Farrell. It's one thing to just play the handsome, cool vampire next door strutting around and sniffing out everything. It's entirely another to provide the kind of instant, yet still playful, menace that is so lacking in our onscreen villains these days. His practically Smooth Talk-inspired attempt at a doorway to get Charley to let him in is precisely when the movie begins to take off. Gillespie's staging of the highway chase through the desert is exquisite, but it is Farrell's build-up to this sequence that helps it achieve the ultimate horror of an audience unsure how Charley & Co. can possibly get away alive.

Fright Night's climax does not exactly subscribe to the more gothic Hammer-inspired version of Holland's 1985 film, but it has its own surprises in store that should please fans. Charley's earlier run-in with a sunlight escape should have tempered his plans for another rescue attempt in the middle of the day and Peter's big entrance is a bit awkward and not quite as applause-worthy as McDowell's "Peter Vincent, ready to do battle with the undead," but we are so locked in at that point it hardly matters. After a slow start, Fright Night really comes into its own thanks to a great ensemble, an underlying theme about growing pains that should embolden the hypnotized Twilight fans and a rare, genuine mix of horror and comedy that complement each other as well as it did 26 years ago.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=21015&reviewer=198
originally posted: 08/19/11 03:00:00
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell not that bad the original is better though 4 stars
6/29/14 Aleksandra Alimpic is cool 5 stars
7/29/12 cr a cool remake with enough scares and laughs for any horror fan. 4 stars
5/24/12 Nancy Silly but I couldn't stop watching it (waited for it to be on MovieCentral tho) 3 stars
9/16/11 Frances Brilliant! 7 times. 5 US and 2 UK. Primarily Tennant;Cast, score Fantastic. 5 stars
9/08/11 Bob Dog Enuf humor for a non-horror fan like me! 5 stars
9/08/11 Todd Teghtmeyer Better than I thought it would be 4 stars
9/04/11 johnny cage one of the better horror films i've seen lately 4 stars
9/03/11 Doubter Wow...rarely have I read so many planted reviews in the comments. Lame film. 1 stars
8/25/11 Judy Loved it!! Love Colin Farrell- sexy hunk!! 4 stars
8/23/11 Jary Saw it yesterday. Did I really need to pay the extra $$ for 3D glasses? Waste of time & $ 1 stars
8/22/11 Kristy Loved it! Thought it stayed true to the funny/campy/horror movie the origional was! 5 stars
8/22/11 Jennifer Rogers I loved it, Colin is sexy, but I love the original as well! Great film 5 stars
8/21/11 Buffy Winchester AWESOME MOVIE!! Colin Farrell was Amazing and Hot and Sexy!!! 5 stars
8/21/11 Meg Morris Enjoyed it; few slow parts but good blend of comedy gore and a hot Colin Farrell 4 stars
8/21/11 Holly Really enjoyed it. Tennant was superb, as always. Everyone perfectly cast. Will see again. 5 stars
8/21/11 Alizarin Rose David Tennant was brilliant, the movie was fantastic! 5 stars
8/21/11 Melissa better than expected. Great dark movie, but still love the classic. 5 stars
8/21/11 Gary Sparks ORIGINAL WAS SWAB AND CLASSICAL ...NEW VERSION IS DARKER AND MORE CRISP! 4 stars
8/21/11 Maat g What a great remake,a type of movie you would go see it a few times 5 stars
8/21/11 Will Thought this was the best horror remake since dawn of the dead, good mix of horror + comedy 5 stars
8/21/11 Daniel David Tennant stole the show...Brilliant! Just Brilliant! 4 stars
8/21/11 Rachel Decent, funny and scary mixed well...better than I expected! 4 stars
8/21/11 Victoria I didnt like it. Very slow, my friend and I thought Colin Farrell was very hot though!!! 2 stars
8/21/11 Karolyn D. Tennant & Colin Farrel rock the screen. A Must-see! 5 stars
8/21/11 Jordan I expected it to be good, but it was absolutely brilliant. Great justice to the original. 5 stars
8/21/11 tara spencer a for special fx--liked sarandon and mcdowell better 3 stars
8/21/11 charlie burns a+ for gore, a+ for acting, hot girls, wife loved colin farrell 5 stars
8/21/11 brad slow long and dry 2 stars
8/19/11 Kim Kelly Could use tighter editing but had its funny moments, Tennant was hilarious 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Aug-2011 (R)
  DVD: 13-Dec-2011

UK
  N/A

Australia
  19-Aug-2011
  DVD: 13-Dec-2011




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