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Fright Night 3D (15)

Rachel Winterbottom enjoys Farrell with fangs oozing CGI blood in 3D

Written by . Published on September 6th 2011.


Fright Night 3D (15)

VAMPIRES: sparkling, brooding, loveable. Right?

Wrong. It might be hard to imagine a world where vampires aren’t boyfriends waiting to happen, but director Craig Gillespie has decided to take the chiselled hunks back to their horrifying roots, when there was less squealing, more screaming.

Colin Farrell gained his brooding credentials in the excellent In Bruges (2008). As Jerry the vampire he excels at smouldering and eating apples and victims with similar gory relish.

A remake of the 1985 classic of the same name, comedy horror Fright Night follows a similar plot to the eighties’ version, minus the latex wolves.

In an anonymous sun-soaked Nevada suburb on the outskirts of Las Vegas, something is slaughtering the locals. Hint: it’s a vampire.

With rapidly depleting classes and a fatal lack of interested authorities, it is down to a few teenage boys with active imaginations and a Buffy-esque bag full of vampire-killing weaponry to investigate their classmates’ disappearances. 

Unfortunately, Charley Brewster’s (Anton Yelchin) been too busy with his cool new friends to notice his old dorky ones are going missing. He wants to escape his geek past, but ex-best friend Ed (Christopher Minz-Plasse) blackmails him into listening to his theories about Charley’s new neighbour, Jerry, by threatening to reveal his love of Farscape, tights and dressing like a squid.

Christopher Mintz-PlasseChristopher Mintz-Plasse

Charley is soon Googling lock picking to rescue the local prostitute and trying to stop Jerry the vampire (Colin Farrell) from getting his overgrown fingernails into his mother (Toni Collette) and hot girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots). The cops are no help because they don’t view a man who blacks-out his windows and uses the screaming woman in his home as proof of his bedroom prowess as suspicious.

Naturally, Charley seeks the help of Las Vegas gothic showman Peter Vincent (David Tennant), the self-professed single greatest authority on vampires. The teen is less than thrilled to discover Peter appears to be a charlatan with a penchant for guyliner, whose only real expertise is in spirits that can be poured over ice.

Unfortunately, Fright Night does away with suspense by eschewing all build-up to the, admittedly obvious, revelation that Jerry, the pale man seen only at night making ‘additions’ to his basement, is a vampire. It’s akin to a remake of The ‘Burbs opening with the characters checking their neighbours’ car boot first. However, this does also mean the film hits the ground running from the monster, even if it doesn’t really make headway until the final third.

Uniquely, in Fright Night the 3D is put to good use. The spectacular car chase has you wincing in your seat and bracing yourself against flying debris, not to mention having to blink away the odd spurt of CGI blood. The final shot of Jerry, inches from your nose, will gratify anyone still thinking longingly of the original’s gross-out latex vamps. 

Imogen PootsImogen Poots

By all accounts, Christopher Minz-Plasse should have been a one-trick pony after beginning his acting career as Superbad’s McLovin in 2007. With his less than physical physique and a voice like a stressed violin, Minz-Plasse might be limited to playing geeks but he still manages to bring vulnerability and comedy to roles that otherwise would just be ridiculous stereotypes. The film only really gains momentum when he’s on screen, which isn’t nearly often enough.  

Tennant brings nothing more substantial than light relief to the film and probably at the expense of future Tennants. He steals from Russell Brand’s repertoire (and wardrobe) to play the Las Vegas showman, Peter, who collects supernatural paraphernalia and tight leather pants.

Yelchin (Chekov in the Star Trek revamp) makes for an effective, but unexciting everyman as Charley, whose luck with women is still baffling even after his girlfriend is forced to explain herself. Colin Farrell gained his brooding credentials in the excellent In Bruges (2008). As Jerry the vampire he excels at smouldering and eating apples and victims with similar gory relish, and is entertaining while never really being terrifying.

The brilliant Toni Collette (United States of Tara) as the sceptical yet caring mum is underused in a role that doesn’t demand much from her apart from looking good in a t-shirt and lying prone in a bed. Brit Imogen Poots (Bouquet of Barbed Wire) as Amy Peterson does her best to add depth to an otherwise running, screaming, occasionally morning star wielding standard love interest role.       

Writer Marti Noxon produced and wrote episodes of Buffy and spin-off Angel, so she knows her vamps and the importance of obtaining the delicate balance between humour, horror and teenage angst. Yet somehow Fright Night falls somewhere in-between horror and comedy, and isn’t really enough of either to be truly very funny or horrific. It is fun though, and the action scenes are fast-paced, thrilling and occasionally even gory enough to carry the film’s flaws.

6/10

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