22 December 2011

Movies: Fright Night

Fright Night (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1438176/

Horror Comedy

Charley discovers that his new next-door neighbor is a vampire. 
Remake of the classic 1985 "Fright Night".

That's right. A horror comedy. Sometimes light in both departments, sometimes a little confused whether it is supposed to be a comedy or not. But it works out in the end.  You'll recognize some of the cast, including Colin Farrell as the Vampire Jerry, Toni Collette as the mom, Doctor Who fans will recognize David Tennant as Peter Vincent. And I recognized Imogen Poots as Amy only because her name always makes me laugh. And, for original film lovers, there's even a Chris Sarandon cameo.
The screenplay was written by Marti Noxon, a name probably best known to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans as a sometimes writer and producer of the show. Yeah, the same Marti Noxon responsible for the script of "I am Number Four". But I'll let that slide. But if you've watched "Buffy" you'll probably recognize some nods to the franchise and detect a familiarity in the feel of the film.

As mentioned before it is a remake of the 1985 film. Many years have elapsed since I last watched the original, so I'm working on vapors when drawing comparisons. But I do recall I enjoyed the comedic campiness of the original.

It keeps most of the major characters, beefs some roles up, tones some roles down, rewrites others.  For example, Tennant's Peter Vincent is a Las Vegas stage magician vs. Roddy McDowell's aging locally produced washed-up midnight monster movie host.  The number of major players is lightened up a bit, probably tightening up the story and confining it to a space as small as the suburb it plays out in. Unfortunately for this film the rewritten and toned down "Evil Ed" character isn't near as entertaining as the original.
Storywise it keeps some of the core things from the original (vampire neighbor, bitings, confrontation at the end), but changes the location, character backgrounds, some story events.  As with the tightened up cast the story was simplified and tightened up some too. But all that tightening results in the amusing observation that events occur that in a normal world have police and possibly FBI crawling all over the place yet they don't seem to attract much attention in this film's world.
Gone is 1985's campy feel. This one is a comedy though sometimes it seems to waver, as if it gets lost and starts taking itself seriously at times, only to remember it is supposed to be lighter and comedic.

Camera work was fine for the most part though there was a moment of disturbingly wonky coordination between the camera panning inside the car vs. the outside view pan.  Decent enough special effects and makeup. They even retained nods to the vicious vampire face design from the original.

All in all it is entertaining. As a film it does stand on its own. As a remake it is not near as disappointing as one would suppose. I think they revamped the characters, settings, locations enough to result in a different film and avoid seeming like a rehashed crapfest, yet retains enough similarities viewers of the original will recognize.

But, in the end, I'm still left wondering why remake a film that really didn't need to be remade in the first place. The original "Fright Night" has its place and works as-is. The new film just seems to be someone else's take on the theme, leaving it with a less-than-fresh feeling and seeming more of a grab to cash in on Gen X childhood memories. With the recent glut of vampire films the remake just adds another to the pile.  Perhaps they're testing the waters for a remake of "Monster Squad"?
Holy crap! I was joking but apparently there is a remake of "Monster Squad" in development. LOL. The conflagration of nerdrage will be immense if development leads to production.

Thus the film is a conundrum. It's good enough, but has been done before, but is different than its namesake, but really didn't need to be made. Meh, just give up and watch it if you want, or don't.

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