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Movie Review: 'Fright Night'

Fright Night

Starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette and David Tennant
Directed by Craig Gillespie
Rated R

I suppose a late movie review for the horror-comedy Fright Night (which was released August 19, 2011) is better than not having one at all, but the film certainly deserves all the exposure it can get. This remake is based on the 1985 original Fright Night from Tom Holland and it certainly livens up the story for today's audiences and contemporary expectations. 

Anton Yelchin's Charley is at first a disbeliever that based on evidence accumulated by his nerdy ex-best-friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who's infatuated with Vampires and Criss Angel-copycat Vincent Price (David Tennant), that Charley's new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. Both Charley and Ed soon find out that Jerry harbors a violent composure and fiendish appetite that's tucked away inside a calm alpha-male. Both Charley and Jerry exchange macho-non-macho glares of intimidation and fear until Charley refuses to let Jerry into his home to feed on his mother Jane Brewster (Toni Collette) and girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots).

I have to mention that Colin Farrell is a scene-stealer and that his performance is resonating with other movie critics as well. Farrell plays Jerry, an alpha-male vampire in hiding that acts pompous and smolders with attractiveness to the local women in a desolate Las Vegas suburban development. You might be asking yourselves: "Jerry. What kind of name is that for a vampire?" Well you're not the only ones, but don't mistake that for he's a vicious bloodsucker who plays a great cat-and-mouse game with Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin).


What follows is a great second act where Charley, Amy and Jane try to escape the murderous vampire Jerry who showcases his true grisly facade and his pathological insanity in getting them outside their home. The scene continues on the road driving through a desert highway to Las Vegas and credit must be given to director Craig Gillespie for a one-shot sequence (filmed entirely on a green screen) showcased some fluid and fun moments of car-chasing that are constantly followed by moments of pure fear in wondering, when and not if, Jerry will catch them. Toni Collette gets a shining moment when she creatively uses a real estate yard sign with a stake-like end to stab Jerry, not a mother you want to mess with.

Certainly tongue-in-cheek moments like the one with the real estate sign; acknowledging the name Jerry as a terrible name for a vampire and Ed being insulted as if he were a fan of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight book series, these moments belong to genre-veteran writer Marti Noxon. Regarded as one of the most beloved vampire writers on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer (most notable behind Joss Whedon), she infuses the story with awkward teenage behavior, goofy comedic moments infused with sly not to the horror-genre comedy. There are plenty of moments where crosses, garlic, holy water, fire and sunlight come into play with winking nods, with moments of humor that play wonderfully into vampire conventions. What are also overtly evident are the sexual undertones that constantly plague all the characters (adults, as well as teenagers) that they desire and ooze the need for a sexual partner.

Those sexual undertones are no more apparent than in Vincent Price, portrayed by David Tenant who mixes 70s rock-star with a Las Vegas showman version of Criss Angel. Performing his shows in the city of the night, Vincent is vaguely interested in Charley's plight to find out how to kill Jerry the Vampire until his past becomes interwoven in a wonderful "search for redemption" arc that surprises and makes you root for him once again. He's also the resident owner of all things that concern weapons for the supernatural.

Having been released behind Final Destination 5 and at the end of a gluttonous summer superhero tentpole extravaganza, audiences seem tired out and even Rise of the Planet of the Apes is moving along slowly. These are factors that may indeed keep Fright Night in theaters for a while if it can keep up its current box-office haul and doesn't suffer too great drop-off rates in the next couple of weeks. It's certainly a movie you should go check out for its sheer fun, clever acting and great writing.

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