Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Review: Fright Night 3D

Rating: 15
Duration: 106 mins

Hollywood horror has more often than not, been a bitter pill to swallow. Rarely does it manage to embrace the terrifying with the credible, thus a rise in success in horror sub genres, like Wes Craven pastiche, Scream, and more recently, the overt spoof franchise of Scary Movie. It was therefore just a matter of time before a light bulb illuminated in the mind of an industry big wig, to green light a remake of Tom Holland's 80's cult, comedy horror, Fright Night.

This review shan't compare this version to the '85 original, in an attempt to objectify this entry as an individual entity. Frankly, it becomes tiresome having to compare and contrast old and new, so shall cease to do so beyond this paragraph. The plots set up and conclude similarly, yet spirals off in the middle. All of this being irrelevant though, as we are presented with exactly the same, neatly formed outcome with a few alternative bumps in the night along the way.

When all-American teen, Charley (Anton Yelchin) is convinced by paranoid friend, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), that his new neighbour, Jerry (Colin Farrell), is a vampire, his mum (Toni Collette), nor the out-of-his-league girlfriend, (Imogen Poots), buy into his absurd claims. Set in Vegas, where its residents work nocturnal hours and hibernate in the day; it's the perfect cover for Jerry's night-walking antics. Cue some prepubescent snooping that alerts him to Charley and Ed's Scooby-like shenanigans. From this point on, Jerry plays a calculated game of invite-me-inside-or-suffer-the-deadly-consequences, as Charley tries in vain to protect the oblivious people in his life. When hope appears lost, he consults the only person he believes can aid him in ridding the place of the increasing army of neck biters- Peter Vincent, played by David Tennant.

As momentum builds, Vincent is properly introduced as a renowned Vegas performer and self proclaimed vamp hunter. His persona, whilst amusing, feels all too familiar in a pond-hoping, Russell Brand mold. His hair-do and facial growth even resembles Brand and tastes a little stale, considering the build up to his character's appearance. Thankfully Tennant grows into the role quickly, as he looks assured with clever dialogue; funny quips and scene stealing witticisms, which evoke many of the laughs, yet one can't help but denounce his casting as a tad gimmicky, in fitting with the film itself.

Aside from the obligatory jumps and scares is the surprise at how quickly the plot speeds towards setting up its climax. Before we even reach the half way mark, Jerry is already rampaging after these hapless mortals, which bemuses as to where the remaining 45-minutes will take us. By no means a traditionally paced script, it certainly gets ahead of itself and fails to play on the notion of how long Jerry can keep his secret, before his blood sucking tendencies are revealed, which feels like somewhat of a missed opportunity.

The most notable aspect is that director, Craig Gillespie, makes conscious references to its tongue in cheek nature, whilst blending it with a genuine acknowledgment towards serious scares.  Protagonists Charley and Vincent are presented in stark contrast to one another. The first is a straight-and-narrow teen, void of discernible qualities, whereas the latter is an over the top, whiskey glugging, eccentric, potty mouth. Furthermore, Farrell offers an altogether different angle; a perfect tongue in cheek, yet semi-serious performance, which proves the strongest of the lot. His subtle act only accentuates his witty lines, generating some genuine laughs with his pinpoint delivery, amidst a largely lacklustre script, often relying on inane dialogue to fill the gaps between the too-few-and-far-between entertaining scenes.

The supporting cast manage to sustain the story, but offer little, apart from the an in-form Mintz-Plasse, who replicates traits of his most recognised role as Superbad's Fogell, aka, McLovin', brilliantly. It works in conjunction to clean-cut, Charley, yet the script deems his presence unnecessary as the story progresses.

Fans of the genre and the original, as well as Tennant, are likely to gain more from the experience than others. It's engaging at times and non forceful in it's nature, as Fright Night entertains, but comes with its share of faults too. Logistically speaking, the plot is its weak element, as we are left to ponder over Jerry's motivations and why he becomes obsessed with killing the folks next door, when surely he has more important concerns, i.e. avoid arousing suspicion of his blood lusting ways. Maybe his vampish intuition knows something we don't, yet ceases to share justification in the pursuit of a lonely, single mum and two naive high schoolers.

It's important not to read too much into proceedings though, as it'll only leave you scratching your head. In terms of describing it as good, old-fashioned fun, it's more than worthy of the definition. However, in 2011 where all forms of the horror (sub) genre are exhausted; squeezed dry of sequels and prequels, and remade for good measure, Fright Night proves hard to differentiate from anything else seen before.

The conclusion plays out very formulaic; it's structured in an obvious manner. It conforms traditionally, as all plot holes and anomalies are tied up neatly- a little too neatly in honesty, as it surrenders any climactic suspense in favour of predictability.

The use of 3D is as saturated now as it has ever been, but saying this, it works in a way that amicably accentuates the experience. It's used overtly as a gimmick in the hope of adding to the films 'fun' intentions.

Fright Night is hit and miss; at times it's funny, even hilarious, especially with a well balanced performance from Colin Farrell, but unfortunately it's weighed down by a confused script and, more-often-than-not, lazy dialogue. It loses direction and urgency far too quickly considering the genre, as it plods towards an inevitable conclusion. First-timer, Tennant, performs adequately as he asserts himself into the thick of the action, but displays an inability to distinguish himself as something other than the Brit-breaking-Hollywood. Fright Night won't share the success of Scream or Scary Movie, but will fall into the sea of mediocrity with ease. As a horror-comedy cum homage, it's not bad, but then again, it ain't that great either.


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