Rated: Fright Night (2011)

“That is a terrible vampire name. Jerry?”

Yes it is another vampire movie. Yes it raises the same questions about whether Hollywood can ever come up with something original ever again. Yes it feels contrived and unoriginal. Still…Fright Night turns out to be enjoyable somehow. You know what its going to be about (it’s a remake of a 1985 film by the same name), you’ve seen all these characters before someplace else, the acting is generic, and the plot is generally predictable, but there is something here that is worth watching. What makes Fright Night fun is the fact that it feels more like a slasher movie from the 1980’s than a modern-day vampire action fiesta. It’s the reinterpretation of the campy horror film for the 21st century, continuing where Cabin Fever and Slither left off, but without having to resort to becoming a gross-out flick for entertainment. The plot seems familiar, but the movie moves forward at breakneck pace. Sure this leaves an inadequate amount of time to sufficiently flush out the characters and setting, but since its all so familiar this is a risk that pays off in the end. The action and special effects aren’t good either, but again that plays to the film’s advantage. Rather than take itself seriously (cough….Priest…cough) Fright Night makes fun of itself for the audience’s enjoyment. Top-of-the-line special effects and a smart, sophisticated story line would only ruin this. Simply put, its a popcorn movie that has enough coherence and wit to actually be worth your time.

Story: Charlie Brewster is a high school student in a Las Vegas suburb. He used to be best friends with nerdy Ed, but now he’s too cool for that. Suddenly, kids start disappearing at school. Ed investigates and comes to the startling conclusion that Charlie’s mysterious neighbor is a vampire. Charlie doesn’t believe him, and Ed disappears. With his suspicions aroused in Ed’s absence, Charlie investigates Ed’s claims himself, and finds out the truth. His neighbor is a vampire, and now he’s on to Charlie…(Good 20/25)

Acting: Colin Farrell is the star of the film in his creepy and almost compical portrayal of Charlie’s mysterious neighbor. The rest of the actors though are just generic typecast players. Anton Yelchin plays the likable Charlie, Imogen Poots plays his pretty girl friend, Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays the nerdy Ed, and Toni Collette plays Charlie’s unconvinced and slightly brainless motherOnly Ferrell and Yelchin appear to be having fun with their roles and it translates to a fun experience for the audience. Okay(19/25)

Direction: Craig Gillespie, taps his comedic roots for the movie’s direction, but doesn’t really know how to handle the action or horror aspects. The camera angles during a car chase scene completely ruin it, and the rest of the film’s action is jerky at best. To create the film’s most frightening scenes, the director just seems to focus up close on the actors’ faces. This is proficient in capturing the character’s emotions, but makes the film feel stuffy and claustrophobic at times. Okay (18/25)

Special Effects: Again, not that great, but they do not need to be. Realistic special effects would only be useful if you are trying to scare the audience, and even though the film is called Fright Night, that’s not what its main purpose is. Instead, the campy special effects add to the enjoyability of the film. You laugh instead of jump out of your seat. Okay (19/25)

Rating: (76/100) = C (Watchable)

  • What’s Good: It’s a rare popcorn movie that has just enough coherence to be watchable. Plus Colin Ferrell puts in a good performance and the fact that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously makes up for some of its flaws.
  • What’s Bad: Not very much here is original, the plot picks up immediately without much introduction, the actors seem typecast in their roles, and yes, it is yet another vampire movie.

Summary: A mostly successful update of sorts for the campy 80’s slasher sub-genre.

My previous review: Rated: Solaris (1972)

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