Monday, 5 September 2011

“That was a fucked up night”

Fright Night: directed by Craig Gillespie; written by Marti Nixon

First things first, I’ve never heard of the original Fright Night, let alone seen it. I ended up seeing the latest incarnation simply because as my cinephile appetite has grown I’ve made it my duty to see as much new releases as I could – and the presence of Toni Collette and Colin Farrell was an added bonus, although I have to wonder what their reasons for joining the venture were. The not-quite-a-horror flick has a basic plot, a vampire moves in next door and teenaged Charley moves from non-believer, to reticent sceptic, to vampire slayer. It’s more teen film than horror, and it’s not completely immersed in its vampire lore. If the ending is to believe, it’s more of a faintly horror twist on a coming-age film in the vein of any random teen film from the nineties.
After a brief prologue where a family is murdered by an unseen foe we meet Charley living with his single mom, he’s a closet dweeb currently dating it-girl Amy and, thus, a de facto member of her clique. To establish its teen niceties the film’s first half hours establishes itself simply, but effectively. In short, everything’s coming at you at brake-necked pace. Students keep going missing, Charley’s former best friend is convinced that vampires abound; a next door neighbour might be too suave to be true and so on. A great deal of what goes right in Fright Night has to do with the self-effacing charm that it exudes for the majority of its runtime. Just like its endearing hero (excellently characterised by Anton Yelchin, who I only happened upon this year with this and The Beaver) the film moves along at a pace that’s occasionally novice-like but with enough raw charm to be appealing.
Perhaps, it’s the film’s tendency to be one and the same with the protagonist that makes the supporting players seems so trifling. Of the lot, Toni Collette comes off most successfully for me. She’s not doing anything she hasn’t done before, and better, but she’s thoroughly winsome in a few short scenes although she’s expelled from the film a long way before its end. I’m not as fond of the register that Farrell is playing his next-door neighbour vampire in. There’s something about his vampiric brogue that seems more than just a little ridiculous, although I reckon that that’s probably just what he might be aiming for. There’s much said about the oddness of the film’s closing third and I tend to believe it’s because around that mark it loses the diffident charm of the previous hour and becomes a bit skewered – still enjoyable, if to a lesser degree, but a lot more hampered by peripheral forces.
It sort of implies that Gillespie is much more comfortable examining small-town fare, which would account for the jerkiness when he leaves said small-town for metropolitan issues. Ultimately he manages to cling, perhaps a little desperately at times, to the same geeky humour which defines it at the beginning so that when the light hits Jerry and shit gets serious there’s still that steady humour that makes the fright more worthwhile as a nice twist on the usual teen fare than anything really terrifying and buoyed by the terribly charming Yelchin that’s good enough for me.



Candice Frederick said...

gotta love toni colette. B-, huh? not bad.

Paolo said...

The film's biggest asset and liability is Farrell and I can't fully believe his campy acting and mind I like campy acting. I agree with you on Yelchin even though Tennant is this film's MVP.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

candice it's not had at all. and toni collette is always great.

paolo that's probably nailing it on the head there, i never fully BELIEVE him even if i'm entertained. and, i'm one of those farrell fanatics who thinks he wasn't terrible in alexander. so, do with that what you wish.