Tea: Almond Date Tea
Welcome, children of the night, to the start of Mr Spooky Teatime’s October horror festival extraordinaire. Once again we gather around the lit Jack o’ Lanterns for some scary experiences. October will be swarmed with ghost and ghouls so expect to greet your skeleton soon as it will jump out your skin. We start the celebration of the Celtic Samhain with the remake of the 1985 horror classic Fright Night. Now the night of frights boasts a new look, rewritten plot and a stronger humorous undertone. While not a fan of remakes in general, I was still intrigued by Fright Night’s trailer. Follow me into the dark basement and grab some pumpkin flavoured tea and let us begin the banquet of blood.
Fright Night follows Charlie, a teenager who has ditched his nerdy days to start dating the hottest girl in school (if the back of the cover is to be believed). He lives with his mother in the outskirts of Las Vegas, a community of ever changing neighbours. Among the new arrivals is Jerry, a seemingly handsome handyman who moved in next door. However, as Charlie’s old friend tries to convince him that Jerry’s activities are of the vampiric sort, Charlie dismisses him and tries to sever the ties to his unpopular days. Yet, after his old friend disappears and Jerry behaves in subtlety threatening ways, Charlie comes to realise that making some stakes and stocking up on holy water may not be the worst idea. To help him combat the evil next door, he seeks help from show magician Peter Vincent, a more edgy version of Chris Angel (if that is even possible), but Vincent dismisses his cry for help as another rabid fan and Charlie is left to face Jerry alone.
– So about vampires and crosses… –
Fright Night is one of the few remakes I actually enjoyed as a movie. It changes enough things to feel different yet at the same time does not veer away from the original too far. The strong humoristic undertone helps to deal with the clichéd rules. Vampires, Jerry included, must adhere to a certain code, such as never entering a house without a proper invitation first, why is never explained, but it is a rule so you simply have to follow it. The way Jerry works his way around said rules is interesting and sometimes even hilarious. He never appears like a Dracula-esque figure, but oftentimes threateningly friendly which makes Colin Ferrell’s performance all the more enjoyable. The main cast is serviceable, but nothing stellar. Each being able to carry their role, but none that will make you say “why is he/she not in more movies?”. One other performance does stick out, however, and that is David Tennant’s drunk and pretentious vampire expert Peter Vincent. Every scene with him is a highlight. Being the exact opposite of the classic Van Helsing role, he is a coward and for the most time does not believe a word of the vampire story. He is one of the highlights of the movie but used sparingly to great effect.
The effects of this movie are a bit of a mixed-bag. While some look really great such as vampires bursting into ash in the sunlight, others come across as oddly out of place and one can clearly see the computer generated origins. The movie was originally intended for 3D viewing and it still shows. There are some odd shots which were intended to stick something in your face, but now they just come across as weirdly shot scenes. The most notable is blood splattering around. It seldom looks anything like blood at all and even a lot of video games have more realistic blood than this. It is shiny (far too shiny) and almost plastic-like. Props for the vampire transformation on the other hand which look a lot better and seamless. As a whole the visual presentation is divided between semi-good shots and 3D-intended-now-not-3D-shots and the effects are caught between nice and nightmarish, and fake and plasticy.
– I really like the vision of vampires that can mess you up with their teeth. –
My absolute highlight, however, was the soundtrack. I fell in love with it the moment the movie started. Nothing can hype me up more than a good organ piece and the opening delivers in this regard. The main theme of the movie sneaks itself into a lot of other piece and this amount of recognition and reuse of the main theme speaks for a strong composer and Ramin Djawadi sure knows how to use it to great effect and I have long been a fan of his work. Just to show my hipster attitude towards movie composers, I can also claim to have been a fan of him before he became a composer for Game of Thrones, a show you might have heard of boasting a great soundtrack as well.
Fright Night may not be the next horror sensation and it certainly does not re-invent the blood covered horror-wheel. But at the same time it moves through the thick forest of genre tropes so elegantly that I simply cannot damn it for it. Yes, there are jump scares and yes, they are of the person-sneaking-up-but-only-wanting-to-talk variety, but I am almost willing to say it deserves to make one of those. It does not claim to be an innovative movie and it surely isn’t, but it is an enjoyable movie. The movie never slows down and there is not one boring scene in the entire movie. It keeps moving at a constant pace and manages to tie everything up nicely by the end. It does not set up a sequel, but rather concludes the story in a finite way, giving it far more payoff and impact as other movies in the genre.
While it may not be among the classics of the genre, Fright Night is a thoroughly enjoyable movie which achieves everything it aims to do. The characters are all solid and oftentimes behave somewhat intelligent for a horror-movie. You will not constantly shake your head at the actions of characters and none of them feel vulnerable and simply there to be food for Jerry. Some of them even go through a bit of character development and isn’t that a welcome change of pace for once. It may not be the scariest or most traumatising experience of your life, but it has some eerie moments and manages to build a good atmosphere. This is a movie perfect for watching with others or by yourself if you are looking for something scary and entertaining. Therefore I can only recommend Fright Night, a remake done right.
Image sources in order of appearance:
- http://www.kino.de/wp-content/gallery/fright-night-2011/fright-night-colin-farrell-4-rcm0x1920u.jpg (Last date of access: 02.10.2016)
- http://media.spokesman.com/photos/2011/08/19/fea_19fright1.jpg (Last date of access: 02.10.2016)
- http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/images/stories/archive/vampire-jerry-big.jpg (Last date of access: 02.10.2016)
- http://images.contentful.com/7h71s48744nc/57U3WUszx6qmcE8OMQIyKO/5dca1eb7691e4f40f55a512331eb0802/fright-night.jpg (Last date of access: 02.10.2016)