Friday, July 19, 2013
Fright Night (2011)
**This review contains spoilers**
Living in Las Vegas, teenager Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) chooses to leave his nerdy life behind him, and he refuses to believe or listen to “Evil” Ed Lee’s (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) accusations about Charley’s new next door neighbor being a vampire. Charley is more concerned with pleasing and paying attention to his new friends and girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots), so he kicked Ed, his best childhood friend, to the curb. And Ed using the mysterious disappearance of Adam (Will Denton), the third member of the childhood trio of friends, as motivation isn’t enough to persuade Charley.
One night, Jane (Toni Collette), Charley’s mother, introduces Charley and Amy to Jerry (Colin Farrell), the new next door neighbor. Jerry works night construction, and after meeting Jerry face to face, Charley doesn’t notice anything suspicious, so he leaves Ed to solve the vampire mystery by himself. But after Charley leaves Ed alone at night, Jerry stalks Ed, and eventually, Jerry reveals himself as a vampire. Jerry turns Ed, and Charley is uneasy about Ed’s random disappearance. Looking for more answers, Charley goes to Ed’s house, and on Ed’s computer, Charley finds video proof of Jerry being a vampire, because Jerry doesn’t show up on Ed’s recordings.
Fearing for his life, and the safety of his mother and Amy, Charley takes the necessary precautions (carving out wooden stakes, gathering crosses, etc.) for any plans from Jerry. After escaping an attack that leaves Charley’s mother hospitalized, Charley realizes he must deal with Jerry head on. With no else to turn to, Charley visits Peter Vincent (David Tennant), a famed magician and the host of a Vegas stage show called Fright Night. Vincent flat out refuses to help Charley, after he recognizes the symbol from an ancient vampire crest in one of Charley’s pictures. But after some goading, Vincent joins forces with Charley to destroy Jerry, and rescue a kidnapped Amy during a morning stand off.
Chris Sarandon was more of a Cassonva, but Farrell’s Jerry is a cold-hearted dick. Farrell shows flashes of the witty charm we all saw in Sarandon’s Jerry, but Farrell is more menacing, vicious, and cruel. Remember how Jerry turned Amy in the original? Jerry turned Amy in the original, because he saw an opportunity to have a second chance with a woman from his past, and Amy resembled a painting of this woman. But Farrell’s Jerry just turned Amy 2011 to piss Charley off. She was just bait to lure Charley to his death, and Farrell’s Jerry wanted to stick the knife in deeper, by giving Amy a bloody kiss in front of him. Plus, unlike Sarandon’s Jerry, Farrell isn’t dressed up like he’s going to a five star restaurant or an opera concert. No, Farrell’s Jerry has a more casual wardrobe more often than not. Sarandon is still the better Jerry, but Farrell has nothing to be ashamed of, because he provides a confident and smooth performance as Jerry in the remake.
When I first watched Fright Night 2011 in theaters, it kind of pissed me off how they turned Charley into this pseudo hipster, who went out of his way to fit in with the cool kids at high school. But to be fair, after Ed turns into a vampire, Yelchin’s Charley becomes William Ragsdale’s Charley. You know, the nervous wreck, who can’t get anyone to believe in his claims of a vampire living next door to him. Yelchin is solid as the new Charley, and I’m glad they QUICKLY turned the corner with the direction of his character, because it would’ve been annoying as hell to watch, and damn near impossible to root for a hipster brat version of Charley. As far as Charley’s mother goes, Toni Collette’s role as Jane is similar to the role of Charley’s mother in the original: she’s limited to sporadic appearances, and her character doesn’t receive a significant amount of screen time. And Collette fades out of the story, when Jane is hospitalized.
No real complaints about Imogen Poots’ Amy. Amanda Bearse’s Amy had a more humble look, and she was a humble character, who had a few feisty moments every now and then. But Poots is made out to be the hottest girl in school, so that’s a big change character wise. But Mintz-Plasse’s Ed? Ugh. Stephen Geoffreys was actually funny, as the outcast nerd. Plasse on the other hand, is just annoying and unbearable. It’s hard to feel sympathy for Ed, when Charley treats him like the deformed abomination, who would bring shame on you, if you went out in public with it, because Plasse comes off as an unsympathetic nerd. You WOULDN’T feel bad, if someone else was bullying Ed 2011 in real life. Yeah, he’s that annoying.
David Tennant’s Peter Vincent has a bigger ego than Roddy McDowall’s Peter Vincent. He’s a self-absorbed egomaniac, and like McDowall’s Peter Vincnet, Tennant is a coward for the majority of the movie, until he finds his courage for the final showdown at the end. Tennant is hilarious, his character never reaches a too unlikeable point, and coming to Charley’s aid at the end is a great moment of redemption. Oh, and Peter has a girlfriend in the remake. Sandra Vergara portrays Ginger, but her cookie-cutter character never rises above average standards, as a fiery, and bitchy Latin woman.
You’ll always have the complaints from die hard fans of the originals, but it’s impossible to avoid modernization for remakes. In Fright Night 2011, Peter Vincent is the host of a Vegas stage show at a Hard Rock hotel, and he lives on the top floor in a lavish penthouse. A big contrast from Roddy McDowall’s Peter Vincent hosting a Hammer style horror show in the original, and Roddy’s Peter living in a normal apartment. Another noticeable change is, mirrors aren’t used to detect the reflectionless blood-suckers. Jerry is caught, because he doesn’t show up on Ed’s video camera, and of course, Jerry doesn’t appear on the security monitors at the hotel. During the final battle, Charley arms himself with a crossbow, and Peter gives Charley a special metal stake, specifically designed to kill Jerry’s breed of vampire, and turn his victims back to normal. Peter also brings some heavy artillery, using a cannon/gun to fight off Jerry’s minions. Plus, using Peter’s advice, Charley uses fire in the battle with Jerry. In the original, Charley and Jerry relied on crosses and sunlight to kill Jerry. And Peter actually has some history with Jerry in this film, because Jerry is the vampire, who murdered Peter’s parents as a child. Oh, and Farrell isn’t Jerry Dandridge in the remake. He’s just Jerry, no last name.
Fans of the original should be able to pick out a few winks here. During the beginning, Plasse’s Ed tells Charley “You’re so cool Brewster” during an argument. Evil Ed in the original poked fun at Charley with this line, and it’s the closing line of dialogue in the original. As Jerry transforms into his more beastly vampire form in front of Peter at the end, he says “welcome to Fright Night….for real.” Sarandon said this exact line in the original to Roddy’s Peter, but Sarandon was more sarcastic. Farrell on the other hand was more sinister. And it’s brief, but Chris Sarandon has a cameo as a motorist here. Sarandon suffers a gruesome demise at the hands of Farrell’s Jerry, but witnessing the two Jerry’s come face to face was a cool moment for me.
Of course, Fright Night 2011 is A LOT more bloody, nasty, gory, and disgusting than the original. But the deaths, attacks, and gory scenes have a stylish flare, and you can tell director Craig Gillespie put some effort into the demises in Fright Night, because the deaths aren’t limited to a barrage of dead bodies piling on top of one another, and senseless scenes of flesh tearing violence. Fright Night 2011 is a satisfying remake, with some necessary updates, an enjoyable cast (minus Plasse), and the nostalgia winks should please fans of the original.