Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Film Review: Fright Night (2011)

Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Marti Noxon
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell and David Tennant

Straight away I want to say this is one of the year’s worst films. And hereby follows a rant about why it should have a stake driven through its heart.

The original Fright Night was released in 1985, and has always been one of my favourite horror films as it took a new angle on the vampire genre, and added an injection of fun and adventure to the mix. It was fairly low budget with no massive 80s stars on the poster, but was great fun and had some excellent make up effects in the final scenes. At its heart, however, was an unlikely relationship between a teenager and a washed up TV host of a late night horror show. It was the partnership of these two which have the film its character, and you went along the adventure with them.

Fast forward 26 years and the same film has been remade, except all the fun has been removed, and replaced with some of the most tediously boring sequences I’ve seen in a film of any genre since A Nightmare On Elm Street was remade last year. And to make matters worse, it’s in 3D. At least the Elm Street remake saved us that displeasure.

The fact that it was only released in 3D in the UK means we don’t even get the option to see the film as it was intended to be seen. By this I refer to the 20% in light reduction that comes when watching a 3D screening. Why then, don’t the film makers make a version which will counteract this darkness in post production? Why do we get the same film with all its 3D rendering but not get the common courtesy of actually being allowed to see what is happening on screen? And then they ask us for more money for the privilege of seeing less! If 3D is to continue, then films like Fright Night need to do something about how they are transferred to the big screen. Not being made in the first place would be my solution.

What we do get is a train crash of a script clumsily put together with the ability of a novice; it’s the equivalent of drawing a dot-to-dot picture with big yellow crayon instead of a pencil. It looks something like the original film, but nothing is done with any skill of precision.

I thought Colin Farrell would make an interesting change to the vampire of the original film - sexier, funnier, cooler. He shows these traits the first time we meet him, then he rapidly has less to do as the film falls a apart at the seams. He turns into a CGI face at some points, and a has a bored face the rest of the time. Not as bored as mine was, though. Furthermore, Anton Yelchin gives a career-worst performance at the age of 22. He has no charisma, no charm, and zero screen presence. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the man responsible for making us care about what happen in the next 106 minutes. If he can’t even be bothered, then why should the audience?

In the original, Fright Night was an horror show and the host was Roddy McDowell who was a vampire expert and the only hope the teenager had. Furthermore, the kid actually watched the show, so had a connection with the man before they even met. In this version, the old man is replaced a foul mouthed Gothic magician played by David Tennant doing an impression of Russell Brand doing an impression of Jack Sparrow. Just take a moment to think how bad that sounds.

Go on, think about it.

Keep thinking.

OK, now you know how dire the situation has become. It is only made worse however by the inclusion of the three worst words you can associate with casting a film today: Christopher. Mintz. Plasse. Is there anything as cancerous to a film’s critical success than this young man? I don’t think so. He personifies everything wrong with the new school of actors. He plays the same character all the time, and can’t even do that well. “What about McLovin’?” you may ask. That was a stupid character in a crass and vulgar film. It doesn’t pass as comedic acting any more than the new Fright Night passes as a horror or comedy. He saps all the atmosphere or credibility from even the most poorly written scenes (and there are plenty of those in this film) with his whiney little voice and attempts to show anything resembling a range of emotion. Even if Terrence Malick, Steven Spielberg and David Fincher collaborated to make a film - if Plasse had a role, it would still be a disaster.

There is nothing to recommend to anyone as to why they should part with their money to see the Fright Night remake. Stay in, get your hands on the 1985 original, and don’t worry about finding the 3D glasses.


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