Have you ever dealt with a parasite? I’m not talking about some little critter you picked up while walking through the woods. The parasite I’m referring to is the human kind. Whenever you’re around them, you can feel the energy sucked out of the room. It’s like being around a leech that walks on two legs. I’ve known a few in my life and once I realized it gave them power to drag me down, I reduced my exposure to them and they moved on to someone else. In the movies, parasites take on many forms including the vampire. In this week’s movie, “Fright Night,” a young man discovers one of the undead has bought the house next door. Can he keep himself and his family safe from the bloodsucker?
Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a high school student who lives in a cookie cutter suburb of Las Vegas with his mother Jane (Toni Collette). Jane sells real estate and is annoyed by the construction dumpster in the yard of their new next door neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell). Jerry works construction on the Las Vegas strip during the evening and sleeps during the day. His house has all of its windows blacked out with newspapers. After getting a ride to school with his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots), Charley is confronted by his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) with the theory that their school mates and other people in the area are disappearing because Jerry is a vampire. Ed has been conducting surveillance on Jerry and claims to have proof. Charley dismisses the idea but agrees to visit a missing classmates’ home with Ed to check it out. Finding nothing unusual and no one home, Charley and Ed part ways after an argument about why they are no longer friends turns violent. On his way home, Ed is chased by Jerry, who has been aware of his snooping, into an abandoned house and bitten. Not showing up for school the next day, Charley becomes concerned and heads over to see Ed at his house. Ed isn’t there, but his parents let Charley go up to his room after he tells them he needs to retrieve a book. In Ed’s room Charley goes through his laptop and finds video files Ed took of Jerry. Jerry’s image doesn’t show up on the screen, confirming for Charley that he is a vampire. Using a fake ID, Charley approaches Las Vegas illusionist and alleged vampire hunter Peter Vincent (David Tennant) for help and advice. When Vincent figures out what Charley is doing he throws him out of his penthouse apartment, leaving Charley alone in trying to protect his mother and girlfriend from the vampire next door.
Colin Farrell is the real star of “Fright Night.” His portrayal of Jerry is that of a wild beast with a veneer of charm. His darker urges are always just below the surface, even when he’s trying to fit in as the friendly neighbor. Farrell seems to relish the role as a blood sucker and that shines through in his performance. Wiping the blood from his face after taking a new victim, Farrell licks it from his hand the way a starving person would lick up spilt gravy. His bloodlust is evident. Farrell makes a good vampire.
Anton Yelchin conveys the right amount of teenage angst and disinterest early in the movie and the proper level of fear and panic as the action heats up. No one could be prepared for learning the next door neighbor is a vampire and the script doesn’t make the mistake of turning Charley into an expert too quickly. While he may be braver than our introduction to the character would have us believe his willingness to face danger isn’t completely unbelievable.
David Tennant will come as something of a surprise to many people, but I’ve been aware of his talents for some time. He was the 10th Dr. Who in the long running British TV series and his Peter Vincent is very much like his portrayal of the Doctor only with more leather clothes and alcohol. I don’t know if it’s just something about the way British actors are taught their craft or about the British in general, but they seem to be able to casually deliver a line that has enormous comic power like it was a grocery list. Tennant drops several comic bombs throughout his performance with ease. I would like to see him in more wide release movies on this side of the pond.
“Fright Night” moves at a comfortable pace. We get enough action so that when the story needs to be moved forward, we’re ok with that. There’s also enough going on during the story parts that it maintains our interest.
I saw the 3D version. There’s very little to recommend spending the extra money. While some objects and blood is thrown the audience’s way, it hardly justifies the added price of admission. Very few films need 3D and “Fright Night” isn’t one of them.
I am happy to report there are no sparkly vampires in “Fright Night.” The only feeling this blood sucker is interested in exploring is that of your life force draining into his veins. Jerry is all aggression and hunger and doesn’t waste any time on angst or conflicting emotions about killing the woman he loves. He doesn’t love anyone except himself. Everyone else is just a walking buffet and that’s the way I like my vampires.
“Fright Night” is rated R for bloody horror violence, and language including some sexual references. Naturally there is plenty of blood being spilled and splattered about. We see a vampire’s severed arm wiggling on the floor. There is also a rather severe neck wound caused by an axe. A couple of people are set on fire. Foul language is fairly common throughout the film.
I didn’t approach this movie with much hope of liking it. While I haven’t seen the original all the way through, I have seen enough to know it wasn’t all that interesting to me. Perhaps I just needed a somewhat grittier retelling of the story to pique my interest as this version of “Fright Night” was very entertaining.
“Fright Night” gets five guitars.
Action, suspense, drama, comedy and more are on the agenda for new movies this week. Vote for the film you’d like reviewed next.
Another Earth—On the eve of the discovery of a parallel universe, a horrible tragedy irrevocably alters the lives of two strangers who begin an unlikely love affair.
Columbiana—Zoe Saldana is a professional killer focused on her ultimate goal: to hunt down the mobster responsible for her parents' deaths.
The Devil’s Double—Summoned from the frontline to Saddam Hussein's palace, Iraqi army lieutenant Latif Yahia is ordered to become the body double to Saddam's son, the notorious Uday Hussein.
Don’t be Afraid of the Dark—A young girl inadvertently unleashes a race of ancient monsters while exploring her father's 19th Century mansion.
Our Idiot Brother—Paul Rudd stars as that one sibling who is always just a little bit behind the curve when it comes to getting his life together.
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any movie currently in theatres.
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
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