I had a much longer review that I kind of felt was going nowhere fast, so I decided to do a much briefer review.
I haven’t seen the original Fright Night, so I can’t compare and contrast, but I can give you my take on the film with no previous bias. To do a quick one line synopsis, Fright Night is about a teenager who finds out that his next door neighbor is a vampire.
I was a big fan of Craig Gillespie after seeing his 2007 film, Lars and the Real Girl, and after Fright Night, I can say that I am very interested to see where his career is headed. Gillespie gets great usage out of the 3D in the film as well. You can tell that a lot of planning went into the film. Unfortunately, most of the movie takes place at night and it can get quite dim at times, but at about the halfway point I honestly forgot I was watching a 3D movie. When 3D can immerse you in that way, you know you’re doing something right.
While some of the CGI is shoddy at times, I did appreciate the implementation of practical effects for most of the monster work in this film. The reason I dig the practical make up effects for the vampires is that the difference between an actual person in makeup and a CGI monster is huge to me. Think of I Am Legend, where the creature effects were completely CGI, it just totally takes you out of the movie and is so noticeable. There is a ‘Children of Men-esque’ sequence in a car that is truly filmmaking at it’s best, it must have been a nightmare to film that sequence because the 3D camera rigs are so much bigger/heavier than regular cameras. Fantastic work from the effects department.
I absolutely love everyone in this cast. Anton Yelchin is certainly an up and coming star in Hollywood, he’s basically the new Shia LaBeouf, which is funny because Fright Night reminds me a lot of Disturbia except with vampires. David Tennant steals the show as a Chris Angel type character. I’m really glad that Imogen Poots has decided to start doing more movies because I think she’s very talented. Christopher Mintz-Plasse also puts in his best and most different role since Superbad. This entire cast is filled with underrated and underappreciated Hollywood talents, glad to see them all come together to make a great film.
The Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) screenplay is one of the highlights in my opinion. The dialogue is sharp and witty; it feels very reverent to vampire mythology and the pop culture references are used well. There are also just some really cool inventive action scenes that I don’t think I’ve ever seen done before. I love the way the narrative unfolds because it feels so unconventional. After one scene I thought to myself, “wow we’re at the end already?” and the movies goes on for another 30 minutes!
I have to give props to whoever edited the trailer because most of the best moments are left out. I really appreciate that because it seems like you get the entire narrative arc of most movies in trailers nowadays, it was nice to see a lot of scenes that were NOT given away in the trailer.
This seems odd to praise, but thank God the creators decided to make this an R-rated film. I could easily see this movie being some crappy PG-13 potboiler remake that the studios used to try to make a ton of money. Instead, they make it a hard R film, keep all the cursing, blood, and gore, and give us a remake worth watching. Granted, they probably won’t make their budget back at the box office (30 million budget, 8 million opening weekend, ouch…), but it’s nice to see artistic integrity win out at least a few times.
I could definitely see Fright Night becoming one of those movies that I pop in every once in a while just to have some fun. Craig Gillespie is a filmmaker to watch in the future, the cast gives fantastic performances, and it’s just a ton of fun. If you go see this movie, I would recommend opting for the 3D showing because it is used phenomenally well. If you want some damn good entertainment at the movies, you can’t go wrong with Fright Night.
Just a few spoilers after the “read more” break for some moments that I really enjoyed. If you haven’t seen Fright Night yet, don’t click “read more”!
When I talk about the script feeling unconventional, one scene really impressed me in particular. When Anton Yelchin’s character tells his mom and girlfriend NOT to let Colin Farrell into the house, the mom decides to trust her son over some new neighbor she just met. Typicall in movies like this, everyone says to the main character “YOU’RE CRAZY! YOU’RE CRAZY!” but I just loved how the mom character said “you know what? I trust my son more than this other guy I just met.” I honestly wanted to applaud in the theater at that point, but I obviously didn’t because that would just be rude lol.
Plus, after the scene where Colin Farrell blows up their house and they get into that freeway chase, I thought the movie was basically coming to an end, NOPE! They pull a Casino Royale on us and the movie goes on for another 20 or 30 minutes. I really loved that because the final two action set pieces aren’t even HINTED at in the trailer, so we get to experience them in all their glory for the first time while watching the movie. Anytime a movie can surprise me narratively where I don’t know exactly how it’s going to end, I’ve got to give them props for that.
Some really cool action beats as well. David Tennant shotgunning the roof to let the sunlight through to the basement? That’s just cool as fuck. Anton Yelchin setting himself on fire and then jumping on Colin Farrell? That’s fucking BAD ASS. There is just some really cool moments. Anton Yelchin saving his neighbor from Colin Farrell, who knows they’re escaping the entire time, was done so well. You can tell that Colin Farrell knew what would happen when they escaped his house and that was just so awesome.