Before I embark on a review of Fright Night 3D, I must begin with a couple of disclaimers. I should point out that this is not a review for experts in horror movies. I’m lucky enough to count the odd one or two amongst my closest friends and I wouldn’t presume to know anything about a subject that usually succeeds only in making me hide under the bed and whimper. Secondly, I have no knowledge of vampires – in the flesh or on screen. I have, in particular, an aversion to sparkly vampires who should be focused on their A levels rather than terrorising young werewolves that don’t even own a decent shirt. I have not seen the original Fright Night and, while I can appreciate its inclusion of Roddy McDowell (one of my favourites – always thought he was killed off too early in The Poseidon Adventure), the new Fright Night has one insurmountable advantage over its predecessor – it has Colin Farrell as a vampire.
I should, therefore, add to my disclaimers another. I have had a movie crush on Colin Farrell since his first appearance on my cinematic consciousness back in 2002 as Danny in Minority Report. This continued through Home At The End of the World and Alexander – took a dip with Miami Vice – and peeked again with Ondine (even though I couldn’t understand a word he said) and The Way Back. If a director and producer needs anyone to be grubby and charismatic, Colin Farrell is their man. Obviously, there is no-one more suited to look the part of the charismatic, dark, DIY expert, psychopathic Vampire called Jerry than Farrell.
The vampire might be called Jerry but that doesn’t mean he has issues about his taste for human blood. On the contrary, Jerry of Fright Night 2011 is committed to his greed for human life and terror, feeding off the thrill of the hunt every bit as much as he relishes licking his lips after each and every gulp. We learn that this is a particularly dangerous type of vampire. He keeps his victims alive as long as possible, turning some and slowly and regularly feasting on others.
As the film opens we’re presented with a new town outside Las Vegas. It’s little more than a few blocks of regular houses with wilting gardens, dropped into the desert. Jerry moves next door to our young hero, Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin), who lives with his mother Jane (Toni Collette) and is newly in love with highschool stunner Amy (Imogen Poots). Charley has turned his back on his geek past, and that includes friends Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Adam (not to mention Squid Man). When Adam disappears, along with others, Ed calls on his ex-chum to help him find out what has happened. The stakes, garlic, crosses and silver bullets decked out about Ed’s person convince Charley that something is amiss but, when he lets his friend down, Ed is the next to disappear.
Charley discovers, like Ed, that the centre of the killings is the home next door of their new charming, handyman neighbour, Jerry. His windows are blacked out, but then so are the windows of those who work on the Strip at night, but he also has a giant skip outside his house, filling up with material from inside the house. Unfortunately, Charley’s mother has taken a shine to the rugged, hot hunk of testosterone next door. Just as well, then, that truth will out and before you know it Charley has everyone convinced and on the run.
There is but one hope and he’s a nutter on the TV. David Tennant plays Peter Vincent (names reminiscent of menacing actors of the past – Peter Cushing and Vincent Price), a larger than life entertainer on the Vegas stage who protests to know all there is to know about vampires. He also drinks an awful lot of green stuff. This is not a good final hope.
The CGI is in places slightly clunky but this is made up for by the blood that pulsates rhythmically out of necks and into the audience through some very enjoyable 3D. The 3D worked well for me, even when everyone is creeping through the dark. There’s a scene in a car on the desert road and I thought the 3D worked wonders with it. The wobbly CGI is also offset by the fact that, at least to me, a horror novice, Fright Night was quite frightening. I couldn’t look at some parts of the film and the vampires, when fully transformed, were revolting. But there were other scenes when the humour – and it’s a dark, bloody humour, as one would expect – bleeds through.
Yelchin and Poots do a good job and it’s hard not to like Ed, the nerd who directed his own superhero movies and would put his life on the line for his friends. Tennant is very amusing, even if he does seem to be doing an impression of Russell Brandt. But he grows in to the role just as his character does. The housing estate is a very effective backdrop to the drama and the director Craig Gillespie clearly understands his classics and monsters in equal measure (I hope) because next for him is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Obviously, Colin Farrell is marvellous as Jerry. Who wouldn’t find such a charismatic new neighbour attractive? Even if he has got an ugly skip outside. And yet Farrell manages to combine so well charm with absolutely no compassion whatsoever. He’s hot but you still know that there’s only one place that the stake’s got to go and that’s straight through his cruel heart.
I also learned an awful lot about vampires and so that’s a bonus.
Can I see it again now?