January 12, 2012

Justify My Netflix: Fright Night (2011)

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Fright Night (2011)

Today's movie: Fright Night, 2011 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because back when I was a teenager, I was an obsessive fan of the '80s original, a funny but scary "horror comedy" about a genial vampire who moves into a bland suburb, with his paranoid neighbor being the only person who understands the truth; and back when this remake was out in theaters earlier this year, critics seemed to agree that it wasn't the usual quickie piece of crap that most of these modern remakes of minor '80s genre flicks seem to be, which was just enough to get me to add it to my queue.

The reality: Really entertaining! Because like a handful of other young Hollywood directors these days, Craig Gillespie (he of the equally great Lars and the Real Girl) used this opportunity not just to pick up a fast paycheck but to really establish himself as a unique filmmaker in his own right, which led to a whole series of smart and inventive updates from the original premise: the action now takes place in one of those "SimCity subdivisions" on the edge of Las Vegas that looks like it was just placed down whole-cloth in the middle of the desert; the vampire is now one of those boorish, crass, truck-driving American Midwesterner pieces of trash (brilliantly played by Colin Farrell); and instead of our hero seeking help from an aging horror-film vet who now hosts a local late-night movie show, like in the original, here he seeks out one of those cartoonishly overacting Vegas-style stage magicians (even more brilliantly played by Doctor Who's David Tennant), who just happens to sincerely be one of the world's foremost experts on vampire lore, because of a fascination with the topic that goes back to his childhood. That's a really smart combination of elements to put together, unique on their own but also paying homage to the original; now add an extra-intelligent script and the really inspired casting just mentioned (including Toni Collette as our hero's mother), and you have one of the few quickie '80s remakes these days to not make me want to vomit in my own mouth. It comes gleefully recommended for your next Saturday-evening movie night with your buddies.

Strangest piece of trivia: Before he died, Heath Ledger was being considered for the part of the vampire.

Worth your time? Yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:42 AM, January 12, 2012. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |