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‘Fright Night’ just alright

August 26, 2011

American cinema’s love affair with old ideas continues with “Fright Night,” a remake of the 1985 cornball horror flick of the same name. In a summer full of retreads like “Transformers,” “Conan the Barbarian” and “Spy Kids 4,” “Fright Night” manages to disguise its unoriginal pedigree. Instead of looking like undeath warmed over, “Fright Night” comes off as surprisingly fresh.

In the movie, Anton Yelchin plays  Charley Brewster, a high schooler in a Las Vegas suburb, who finds out his new neighbor, Jerry, is a vampire. From there on out its a matter of kill or be killed. The plot moves that quickly and is that flimsily. Characters are barely developed and plot often moves forward without much concern for logic or character motivations.

Fortunately, “Fright Night” more than makes up for its barely-there plot with a dark, quirky sense of humor, a stellar cast and solid production. The movie’s humor is built on grisly visual gags and idiosyncratic characters. “Fright Nights” scariest and goriest moments, aside from the opening scene, also tend to be its funniest.

Colin Farrell is awkwardly charming and funny as Jerry the vampire. He’s plays his role with surprising subtlety in an otherwise over-the-top movie, often getting a laugh with his mannerisms as much as his lines. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who plays Charley’s friend Ed, is hilarious in the early part of the movie and manages to branch out in the latter part of the film from the “McLovin” role that made him famous in 2007’s “Superbad.”

The surprise standout of “Fright Night” is David Tennant, best known for hist portrayal of the BBC’s Dr. Who. Tennant plays Peter Vincent, the star of a vampire-themed Vegas show. Vincent, a self-indulgent coward who is habitually drunk on Midori, is the funniest and most complex character in “Fright Night,” and Tennant makes him shine.

Anton Yelchin acts as an appealing foil for these quirky characters, even if Charley is not his most distinguished role. Toni Collett and the up-and-coming Imogen Poots round out the cast pleasantly, but do little to stand out.

Those familiar with with the original “Fright Night” will notice significant changes to the film’s plot as well as as a much darker, but, dare I say, funnier tone. However, the movie sprinkles enough references to the original, including a cameo by Chris Sarandon, the first Jerry, to add an extra level of entertainment to fans of the original.

If you’re looking for some good laughs and a slight scare, then “Fright Night” might be just the movie for you.

Wesley Teal
News Editor

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