Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Marti Noxon
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Evil Ed
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Tom Holland was always one of those underrated 80s horror talents. The guy first caught my attention with his work on “Psycho II”, but retrospective film appreciation keeps trying to put the weight of that success on Richard Franklin. Holland continued to work Aussie talents like Mora and Franklin for a few years before he finally got his directorial debut with the original “Fright Night”. Quite a few of his original set pieces and ideas survive into the remake, but this new film is its own beast. Too much time is wasted on trying to connect to an attention deficit riddled audience who needs to have humor to support real world scares. Fantasy is wasted on an audience that can’t except several staples that have caused American Horror to thrive.
“Fright Night” comfortably slides into this weird area that represents where American Horror resides now. The 2011 version is able to comfortable blend the strained relationship between Evil Ed and Charley Brewster, but it tries to do it in a way that almost feels out of place. LARPing is true nerd activity, but it’s handled in this weird bastardized Hollywood version of Youtube accessible youth. Add onto to that, this sense of having to push a female lead that’s way more capable than the male. Sure, gender politics and desire for conformity have become defined than in the Reagan years, but it almost seems like someone’s trying to force a vision down our throats. This all changes when we meet our villain.
Colin Farrell steals the show from his first moment onscreen and never relents with his performance as Jerry. Playing up the usual psycho sexual angles that Chris Sarandon relished in the original film, Farrell makes the character something that far surpasses the urbane white pimp of the original performance. Sarandon’s Jerry almost seemed too good for the world, like a cool cat desperately hoping that his prey would eventually live up to his expectations. Colin Farrell is a vampiric tomcat on the prowl for young poon and cheap thrills. When we watch Colin toy with Charley, as he tries to help his go-go dancer neighbor escape the vampire’s grasp…it’s a thing of beauty.
The prowling and animalistic attitude behind Farrell’s Jerry is enough to make you forgive the various downfalls of the film. Toni Collette showing up and trying to be the fun mom who wants to relate to the young people. Anton Yelchin trying to break into his neighbor’s house while using a phone app. It’s clever, people! He’s a young nerd, so technology is his only connection to nefarious intentions. Everyone laugh and relate to the shenanigans. Then, there’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s take on Evil Ed. While Stephen Geoffreys OWNED all as the original Ed, the once and future McLovin makes no effort to break past his schtick established in 2007. It was fun to see Lisa Loeb getting work as his on-screen mother, but that’s about all that’s memorable with Evil Ed 2011.
What else is there to say? David Tennant remains the greatest Doctor and he makes a fine stand-in for Roddy McDowall. The Criss Angel stuff is a paper thin cover for much darker background, which made me glad since the angle was played up so much in the trailers. For those of you at home, make sure to watch for Chris Sarandon’s cameo as a careless driver. Fun stuff for horror fans in the know, but likely to be passed over by the neophytes. In the end, what we have is this weird revamp of old horror for a generation too dim to have its own culture. While I did get to screen this in 3-D, it’s not something I would recommend. There were very few areas where the 3-D conversion actually worked past cheap sight set-ups for broken glass and various vampiric impalements.
RELEASE DATE: 8/19/2011