Monday, September 12, 2011

Fright Night (2011)

PCMR Verdict: Good fun, bring low expectations and you'll enjoy your popcorn.

PCMR Rating: 6/10

The 80's was something of a heyday for low-budget horror. PCMR spent many a happy evening in my tweens browsing the local Xtra-vision with a few buddies, trying to resolve the weekly debate of whether '976-Evil' was going to be better than 'Braindead', for example. We'd either choose by the cover alone or by trailers, neither of which was foolproof. (That said, the terrible ones were usually more memorable.) Before Arnie and all those dumb 80's actioners came on the scene, horror was very much the coolest section in the video store.

Despite all those evenings in the horror section, the original 'Fright Night' somehow passed me by. I was vaguely aware that it was a vampire movie though, and with Colin Farrell in the lead 'vampire next door' role. I was quietly hopeful he might play it with his own accent. (A Dublin vampire would be bleedin' sound, so it would!)

Before giving the skinny on Fright Night, let me just set out my vampire stall. Like most right-thinking people, PCMR is of the opinion that movie vampires should be a little bit more 'Lost Boys' than 'Twilight'. So, no, Edward, when you step into sunlight you don't become an emo discoball. The, reality (ahem) is that you burn. Horribly. I know this is true because I've seen Near Dark and The Lost Boys. And Salem's Lot. And er, The Monster Squad. It's the rules, and you can't just go re-writing this stuff. And as my final word on this whole unnecessary debate, I'd just like to point out that I live on the street where Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, so I win.

Happily, 'Fright Night' also subscribes to this old-school point of view, neatly ignoring the Stephanie Meyer (spit) 'vampire-as-emo-dreamboat' rulebook. The Fright Night vampire, thankfully, is a hungry, lecherous carnivore who will eat your mom if he's invited in. Colin Farrell plays the bad man without a hint of camping it up, which to his - and Fright Night's - credit.

Fright Night's teen hero is more than a little unlikeable, which means you're never quite sure if he's going to redeem himself, or get some of the just desserts treatment that's so often dished out in horror movies. Anton Yelchin plays it quite well, although the best the audience can hope for in this type of movie is that he's not annoying. (He's not). His hot girlfriend is also quite good (the amusingly named 'Imogen Poots'. Tee hee) and his mom is Toni Colette, who in Hollywood speak, is a banker. (Although not literally).

David Tennant also throws in a decent turn as a Russell Brand-ish Las Vegas Vampire Hunter, and sneakily gets a Hollywood movie under his belt, the wee pup. (And life after Doctor Who used to be so difficult). So a good cast then, and we haven't even got to McLovin yet.

All in all, Fright Night is a decent popcorn movie, and it manages to steer clear of enough vampire horror cliché to retain interest. The story rumbles along at a decent pace, with some decent twists and turns, but it's never really genuinely scary. The comedy's nicely played, and even though the plot has so many holes it's letting in an alarming amount of sunlight, the whole thing builds up to a satisfying finale.

So, all told, low expectations required, but it does the job.

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