Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: Fright Night (2011)

Full disclosure, guys: I don’t give a crap about Fright Night.  Why would I, really?  I never even heard of the original until a few months ago and frankly I had no interest in watching a vampire movie.   Sure I’ve said on this blog that vampires are basically really cool and I continue to stand by that statement today but I don’t really have any love for the current portrayal of vampires in Hollywood (Thanks a lot Twilight) nor do I appreciate the sheer number of vampire films they constantly make (Again, thanks a lot Twilight).  I wasn’t planning on watching it but The Lady insisted we go because of one reason and one reason only: David Tenant.  Who is David Tennant you ask?  Let me answer your question with a question: does it make you feel like a big man since you’re obviously not a nerd?  How’d that NFL lockout work out for you?  FOOTBALL!

Anyway David Tennant plays the main character, The Doctor, on the extremely popular and long running British television program Doctor Who.  Specifically he played “The Tenth Doctor” (We’re not getting into it today, folks) for about five years which made him the most well known person to play the role for the younger generation of fans (Though Tom Baker, aka “The Fourth Doctor”, is still the most well known for older fans certainly). As such I imagine that many fans of that show checked out this movie due to their love of that actor.   Fair enough.  As a Star Trek fan I can’t but notice that “New ChekovAnton Yelchin stars in this film. So from the point of view of a huge nerd, such as me, this film boils down to The Doctor, drunk and down on his luck, recruiting Chekov to be his new companion as they battle a vampire horde running loose in Las Vegas.  There are a lot of worse plots than that, my friends.

So this film was directed by Craig Gillespie who I guess also directed Lars and the Real Girl, a very different kind of movie.  The screenplay was written by Marti Noxon who was one of the main writers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which does kind of explain a lot.  Fright Night is a remake, I should mention, of a 1985 film adding further evidence that Hollywood is incapable of coming up with new ideas.  Seriously, how close to the bottom of the creative barrel do you have to be to remake cult films from the 80s?   What’s next?  Howard the Duck 2012?  I never saw the original film so I have to take this one on its own merits rather than compare it to it’s predecessor.

Full review after the jump.

Pictured:  A middle aged drunk spending "special" time with an underage boy
Charlie Bartlett Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a teenaged asshole who is the type of guy who throws close friends away in order to fit in with the cool kids and impress the hot girl.  Despite the fact he’s the worst person in history his former best friend Evil Ed Lee (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) comes to him for help as he investigates the disappearance of their other friend. Ed suggests that Charlie’s new neighbor, the enigmatic Jerry (Colin Farrell), is not only responsible for that and other disappearances in town but is also in fact a vampire.  Charlie dismisses Ed but when his former friend also vanishes and Jerry starts to act downright creepy he starts believing in bloodsucking fiends.

You might have been able to tell I’m not a fan of Charlie.  Oh I love Anton Yelchin as much as anyone but even so the guy he plays in this movie is a lousy human being who it literally takes the death of his best friend for him to finally even consider he may have been in the wrong.  Basically I found his character extremely unlikable and wasn’t really all that interested in him living through the end of the film. I wanted to mention this before I go into anything else because no matter what else I say in this review this was always the thing that stuck with me the most.

Evil Ed: Hey Charlie, you want to hang out later?
Charlie: Sorry dude, but I've decided to forget your name.
Anyway I did really like Colin Farrell but not just because he’s a talented actor, though he is surprisingly underrated for some reason.  No, Jerry is a good vampire villain because he’s f**king evil!  There’s no tortured and beautiful creature of the night here; he’s foul, loathsome, murderous, sociopathic, narcissistic and cruel. He’s a monster, which is WHAT VAMPIRES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE!!!!  He’s not misunderstood, he’s hungry.  There have been so many films and TV shows with vampires as sympathetic figures who are to be pitied and loved it’s refreshing to see Farrell play one who’s as evil as any other creature I’ve seen in a film.  It’s weird that Jerry has all of the classic vampire traits and weaknesses and yet somehow in the current crop of vampire flicks it somehow feels fresh.

And yes, I’ll agree with other reviewers: David Tennant steals the show.  Now I think the character he plays is really similar to his portrayal of The Doctor (He’s acts like the 10th Doctor if the 10th Doctor was a drunken phony) but that doesn’t mean that his character wasn’t easily the most fun or had the best lines, because he was and he did. I doubt this movie would ever get a sequel but I’d watch the hell out of spin-off called “Peter Vincent: Vampire Hunter”. Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Evil Ed is still pretty much the same dude he always plays but he does put in a neat spin in that the guy had a backbone and didn’t take shit from bullies or assholes who turned their back on him.  The rest of the cast is fine, though it’s full of fake Americans.  Farrell is Irish, Imogen Poots (Amy) is English and Toni Collette (Charlie’s mom) is Australian (David Tennant appears to be playing an Englishman but he himself is Scottish).

Peter Vincent is my Doctor
(Mainly because he carries a shotgun)
I’m not very impressed with the atmosphere of the film.  It’s supposed to be a horror/comedy but it’s not very good at either.  It’s not particularly terrifying, though it can be a bit creepy here and there, and aside from a few chuckles it’s not all that funny.  I’ve seen that a lot of people liked the blend but I just wasn’t into it.  Plus the movie is cheesy pretty much the whole time.  This may be intentional but a lot of things in the film made me roll my eyes.  Worse of all the ending bothered the crap out of me.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but it is all wrapped up in an insultingly neat package when the dust from the climax settles.  I didn’t need some downer ending per say but what the movie gave seemed like it was talking down to me.  Also most of the special effects look pretty damn bad.

Another weird thing for me was the 3D.  Of course I didn’t watch it in 3D because 3D is stupid, but a lot of the effects specifically for that medium just looked silly and forced as I watching in it good old 2D, as God intended it.  It looked like there was a whole lot of random crap being thrown at me throughout the whole film..

Vampire with a soul, my ass!
Watching this film I felt like it didn’t have anything at all that would normally sustain me while viewing a film.  I was pretty bored and was waiting for it to end, most of what the film was going for not really clicking for me.  However there are two cool things about this flick for me; Collin Farrell and David Tennant.  Thankfully their performances got me through the movie but other than that I just flat out wasn’t interested in it.  I can’t give it a bad grade it doesn’t deserve it and you may love it, especially if you’re a fan of horror (which I am not) and/or a fan of vampires, or even just a Doctor Who fan who wants to see David Tennant in something aside from reruns of that show.  Though I was sour on it I would call this an average movie that you may need to watch and make your own call on.

I give Fright Night 3 out 5 Adorable Pandas.


-David Tennant is awesome, and Colin Farrell is pretty good too

-Vampires are portrayed the way they are meant to be: evil


-The main character is one of the least likable leads I’ve ever seen

-The special effect aren’t very impressive

-It’s not terribly scary or funny

-Lame ending

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