Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fright Night

After feeling betrayed by Hollywood with their recent array of rubbish vampire movies, I wasn’t excited to see Fright Night (2011), a remake of a 1985 vampire horror movie by the same name. That is until I heard The Doctor David Tennant was in it. It instantly became a much higher priority. I don’t typically care for horror movies, but this one was actually really good!
High School senior Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) finally has it all; he’s running with the popular crowd and dating the hottest girl in school, Amy (Imogen Poots). He’s become so cool he’s begun avoiding his old friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Trouble arrives when an intriguing character named Jerry (Collin Farrell) moves in next door to Charlie. Jerry seems like a great guy at first, but there’s something not quite right about him, and only Ed and Charlie seem to notice. After witnessing some very strange activity, Charlie comes to an unmistakable conclusion: Jerry is a vampire preying on the neighborhood. Unable to convince anyone of the truth, Charlie has to find a way to get rid of the monster himself, even if that means enlisting the aid of a truly bizarre Las Vegas occult magician Peter Vincent (David Tennant).
One of the early scenes in Fright Night had a very paranoid Ed trying to convince Charlie that Jerry is a vampire. Charlie accuses Ed of reading too much Twilight. Reasonably so, Ed is offended by this, and argues that Twilight vampires are make-believe and really stupid. Not only was this hilarious, but it was communicating to the audience that the vampire in this film is not going to be the pansy, sparkly variety who knows what you’re feeling and wants to take you to the prom. THIS vampire is the way vampires are supposed to be: undead, demonic monsters from hell, bent of draining the life force of the innocent to sustain their existence as one of the damned. With all the romanticized and sexualized vampire movies, TV shows, and literature that has emerged in recent years, having a truly frightening monster out for blood was oddly quite refreshing! Besides, anything that makes fun of Twilight is good in my book.
I also have to give credit to a film that causes me to withdraw previous statements. I’ve said that horror and comedy are thematically at odds with each other and don’t fit well in the same movie together. Fright Night was a comedy horror movie, and it was a hoot! They argue that “Jerry” is a terrible name for a vampire, they complain about the quality of vampire hunting gear won on eBay, and Charlie’s mother (Toni Collette) makes references to the 1960’s TV show Dark Shadows.
Fight Night does horror really well, too. Since movies like Saw came out, the horror genre has degenerated from stories that induce feelings of horror and terror to stories that simply gross out the audience. There’s a big difference; getting a buzz saw blade lodged in your face is gross, holding your breath to try and remain undetected by a monster in its own lair is scary. There are scenes in Fright Night that filled me with dread while other scenes had me laughing.
Teens are the target audience for this movie. Most teen horror flicks feature characters that are intent on having sex, partying, experimenting with drugs, and underage drinking and the like. Fright Night was curiously much more conservative. The story focuses more on Charley’s changing relationship with Ed, rather than on Charley’s sexual interest in his girlfriend. On top of that, Charlie is trying to protect his single mother from making bad choices with bad boy next door. Charlie even becomes less interested in sex the more time he spends hunting down Jerry. The movie isn’t about sexual conquests of the adolescent male; it’s about Charlie making conscious choices to protect the women in his life from the “bad boys” out there. I don’t see this kind of thing in movies aimed at teens very often, it was a pleasant change of pace.
Fright Night is fairly clean for a horror movie. Since it’s a vampire movie, we get to see an abundance of blood splatter, but we don’t see much disembowelment and such. There’s some immodesty, but no full on nudity. There’s quite a bit of profanity, though, especially after the comically bitter and sarcastic Peter Vincent shows up. I didn’t care for that, but it fit into the character well, so I can’t really fault the movie for it.
Fright Night was a really fun comedy-horror movie, and the best contemporary vampire movie I’ve seen in years. It was fun, it had some good writing and directing, excellent actors, it was funny and scary, and had some great special effects and cinematography. Best of all, there are actual vampires in this vampire movie; it shows us, in a fresh and interesting way, the traditional vampires that people with any taste will know and love. Fright Night is worth seeing. I don’t even like horror movies that much and I enjoyed it enough to want a copy on Blu-Ray. Some content (such as the profanity) won’t settle well with some viewers, so be conscientious of that before seeing it.

What is your favorite Comedy-Horror movie? Why did you like it so much? Comment below and tell me all about it!

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