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A Bloody Good Time

by Shawn Stone on August 25, 2011

Fright Night
Directed by Craig Gillespie

This film is dedicated to the proposition that, while vampires may or may not be sexy, their principal interest is in drinking your blood.

Jerry the vampire (Colin Ferrell) may enjoy a relaxing American lager while chuckling at nonsense on TV like the rest of us, but Jerry’s also likely to have a couple of victims stashed away in the recesses of his unassuming Las Vegas split-level lair for leisurely bloodsucking, too. He’s intelligent, vicious and perpetually thirsty, and you don’t want to become entangled in his business.

Which is exactly what teenager next door Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin, Chekov in the Star Trek reboot) does. Charley doesn’t really want anything to do with Jerry, but his mom (Toni Collette) has become charmed by Jerry, and his nerdy pal Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has vampire-hunting aspirations. And then there’s Charley’s girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots), who becomes a subject of Jerry’s unholy interest.

This remake is better than the 1985 original, which suffered for having a lead actor whose main reason for getting the part seemed to be that he looked like the kid in Gremlins. But it’s more than that: Fright Night is a smart, funny, gory delight. Much fun is had with the traditional vampire “rules,” and much fun is had at the expense of the Twilight movies.

Colin Farrell has a great time as the vampire, alternately turning on the charm or the violence; add this to his turn in the otherwise forgettable Horrible Bosses, and Farrell’s had a great summer movie season. Just as good is David Tennant (Dr. Who) as a Criss Angel-esque Las Vegas strip entertainer; his “Fright Night” stage show is a hilarious pastiche of bad magic and goth kitsch, and when the clown has to swing into action, Tennant is thoroughly convincing. Happily, the teen actors balance things out: Both Yelchin and Poots are all low-key charm.

Director Craig Gillespie also manages to stay one step of ahead of audience expectations in a couple of very tense scenes; the last thing you expect in a movie like this is a surprise, and Gillespie has two or three up his sleeve.

The Fright Night remake is my favorite 3D movie since Drive Angry. Sure, the 3D was more tastefully employed in Rio and (especially) Harry Potter and the Pot o’ Gold Part II, where every ripple in the Earth looked lovely, but here the 3D is gleefully used for explosions and spurting blood and exploding vampires . . . you know, fun stuff!

Which is another reason to recommend Fright Night.