Saturday, August 20, 2011

Box Office Review - Fright Night

Making a remake must be one of the more difficult things to do in Hollywood. Not from the studios stand point mind you, as redoing an old film usually means there is a built in audience, but I think that being the director and actors working on a remake must have some added stress. As soon as film audiences hear the word remake they immediately roll their eyes and assume the worse. Given that this is the go to response for the majority of film fans, it is interesting to note that there isn't much evidence to support this response. Sitting here writing my thoughts about Fright Night, I am trying to think of a remake that I really despise, and I can't even think of one. The first film that came to mind was The Italian Job remake, but being honest, I have never even seen that film.

This brings me to my thoughts about the remake of the very watchable 1985 film Fright Night. That film takes its time developing a fantastic atmosphere and all the characters feel like classic characters (well maybe not Evil Ed). The new Fright Night directed by Craig Gillespie doesn't take anytime building an atmosphere and not only am I happy about this, I think it is the strongest thing about the film.

2011's Fright Night takes place in a suburb outside of Las Vegas, the last place a vampire would pick to live. The film starts in a very familiar way, but almost immediately deviates from the path of the original movie. Rather than building the film around whether or not the main character Charley Brewster's neighbour Jerry is a vampire; it is established almost immediately that Jerry is a blood sucker, and a mean one at that. I really appreciated this decision to just jump into the action rather than explain all the mythology surrounding Vampires, as just like the origin story of superheros in film, mythology recounts are dull and tired. It is nice to have a film that credits its audience as people who are somewhat familiar with the subject matter rather than just rehashing the facts for the stupid people.

So once Charley figures out things are rotten is his small suburb, he has to figure out how to protect his Girlfriend and Mom from becoming servants of the four hundred year old Jerry. Unlike in the 1985 film, Jerry doesn't have crazy powers of seduction, so he has to work a little harder to get at the ladies. Sure Jerry is played by Colin Farrell so he doesn't have that hard a time with the ladies, but his personality isn't exactly warm and fuzzy. Farrell plays Jerry as a cold and calculated monster who can put on the charm when he needs to, but is more comfortable feasting on his victims than flirting with them. I liked this decision, and felt it worked well opposite Anton Yelchin's performance as Charley.

The film takes some chances with the action scenes, and some work better than others. Midway through the film there is an overly ambition car chase that is shot well, but still looks phony. This scene feels more like a cheesy amusement park ride than a film and that might work for some people, but it doesn't for me. I was most impressed with the final showdown at the end of the movie. The film takes a bit of a shift when Charley hits up an army surplus store to tool up for the final battle, but I liked it. The actual battle is unique and contained a few surprises.

The new Fright Night sets itself apart from its 80s counterpart, but still keeps the original's sense of humour and adventure. While I liked this remake less than the original film, I still had a good time watching.

A Good Banana

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