Fright Night 3D
Farrell's Jerry is a great creation, this is a vampire as we knew them in the past, seductive, charismatic, and deadly.
Craig Gillespie's remake of the 1985 cult horror comedy Fright Night is something of a mixed bag, which could unfortunately leave many viewers underwhelmed.
Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a high school former nerd, who has lapsed his friendship with Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in favour of hanging out with his more "popular" friends, including girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots). When kids start going missing from their school, Ed enlists Charley to investigate a series of vampire sightings in their area, all centering around new neighbour Jerry (Colin Farrell). Encountering vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant) along the way, Charley seeks to rid his small Nevada town from the influence of the villainous bloodsucker.
The horror elements of Fright Night are very well realised, and it becomes clear very early on that the film has a certain amount of disdain for the "romantic and noble" vampires of recent times. Harking back to a far more frightening depiction of vampirism, Farrell's Jerry is a great creation, this is a vampire as we knew them in the past, seductive, charismatic, and deadly. Farrell takes on the character superbly, and is the real highlight of the film as he stalks his prey in a performance which invokes memories of Bram Stoker's original Dracula novel. It is an obviously well-researched role, and the actor holds the screen whenever he appears. If Fright Night has achieved one thing, it is that it has made smouldering, predatory vampires part of the horror landscape again. There are a number of scenes with genuinely high tension, and it is during these that you do wish that the cast and crew had been let loose on a pure horror film, as this acts a clear showcase of their abilities.
When the comedy moments are allowed in, they are entertaining enough, although perhaps could have done with a few more out-loud laughs. Mintz-Plasse is fun in his surprisingly limited screen time - he may be more or less trotting out his usual schtick, but his early scenes with Yelchin are good value. Yelchin himself does a good job of anchoring the film, showing adaptability as he handles the changing tone reliably. Toni Colette as his mother and Poots as Amy are typically classy, and Tennant enjoys many of the films best scenes. Channeling Russell Brand, the former Doctor Who star is a foul-mouthed and debauched presence, initially confusing and slightly jarring but quickly warmed to, particularly in his fiery exchanges with assistant/ bedmate Sandra Vergara. Perhaps we could have done without the backstory the script jams into the last 20 minutes, but for the most part Tennant's is a welcome turn.
The main issue with Fright Night is that while Gillespie shows a good grasp of horror tropes, and a reasonable stab at comedy, the two elements for the most part cancel each other out, creating lulls in the plot and leaving large sections of the film feeling curiously flat. When one genre or the other is let off the chain the film is a far better ride, but for many parts Fright Night can drift into boredom.
Speaking of flat, though, the most irritating thing about this film is the use of 3D. If you are thinking of heading to the cinema for this one, do yourself a favour and opt out of paying extra for the third dimension, which apart for the odd arbitrary object flung screenwards is barely used. Shooting a film which takes place almost entirely at night seems like a colossal waste of the technology, and indeed it is- there really is no point seeing a film this visually inscrutable in 3D.
An entertaining enough take on the vampire mythos, then, but sadly a great performance from Farrell and some very well realised horror sequences are not enough to save Fright Night from being a pretty forgettable experience.