Sunday, March 24, 2013

Movie #181: Fright Night (2011)

Fright Night is a vampire horror movie, but with little to no camp, unlike its predecessor. It stars Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette, Colin Farrell, David Tennant and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. So lots of funny names.

Now, it's a remake of 1985's Fright Night, yes, but the similarities are: The character names, the "vampire has moved in next door" trope, a few lines of dialog, and Chris Sarandon (he cameos). That's pretty much it. The characters' personalities, the overarching plot, the mood of the movie and even the characters' roles in society are completely different. And better.

To wit: The setting is now a suburb of Las Vegas, a neighborhood that's being slowly abandoned. Charlie Brewster (Yelchin) used to be an utter geek, but dropped his buddy Ed (Mintz-Plasse) for a shot at hanging out with cool kids and getting a hot girlfriend, Amy (Poots). He's kind of a douchebag now, but Ed comes to him for help (basically blackmailing him into it) and explains that Jerry (Farrell), the new neighbor, is a vampire.

Jerry is not, however, the slick, charming, friendly vampire of the original Fright Night. Ed describes him as "the fucking shark in Jaws", and it's apt. Farrell is obviously predatory. He leads with his nose, sniffs the air around him, and looks at people with barely-concealed hunger. His mother and Amy mistake it for lust, and maybe it is a little, but he only keeps the charade up as long as he needs to, and when it's obvious that Charlie has made him, he immediately goes into attack mode. He tears up the house's gas line and blows the fucker up to dodge the "can't enter uninvited" issue.

Before that, though, as in the original, Charlie goes to Peter Vincent (Tennant) for help. Vincent, though, is a Vegas stage magician with a vampire-themed show, and he's known as an occult/vampirism expert. It turns out that he is that expert because his parents were killed by a vampire right in front of him (Jerry, as it happens, which could have been lame but Farrell sells it). Vincent makes reference to tribes of vampires and how they have different habits, powers and weaknesses, which is pretty cool and always makes me want to pick up my Vampire: The Requiem game (set in Vegas, as it happens).

Anyway, as in the original, Jerry grabs Amy from a club and bites her, taking her back to his house and waiting for Charlie and Peter to save her. They do, but they actually use tactics, the situation is really creepy, and the vampires are predatory, scary and monstrous.

It's called Fright Night, but it draws more on True Blood than Dracula, which is fine with me. Good stuff. Oh, and unlike Charlie's mom in the original, who doesn't really do much but get in the way and then get out of the way as plot-necessary, Toni Colette is badass. She stands up for her son, stakes Jerry with a real estate sign...and then passes out, yes, but in fairness she'd just been in a car accident.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: The Frighteners