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Fright Night - Movie Review By A.D.Harris

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(taken from theadamharris.com)

Scary, hilarious, outrageous and well aware that its audience shouldn't know whether to jump in fear or laugh out loud, Fright Night feels like a horror film from the olden days that you watch purely to have fun. Well worth viewing in a full theatre to get the atmosphere that works best, Fright Night is also undeniably not everyone's cup of tea. It is jam packed with blood, cussing and violence but beneath its wicked cover lies a film that is almost child-like at heart. It may be a Vampire film, but this is no twilight. This is Blade with a sense of humour, Dracula for the modern times.

Entering the world in sinister fashion as an entire family is ripped apart by an unknown force, Fright Night gets you "into the zone" it wants you straight away. Following on from the creepy opening it changes tack and you meet Anton Yelchin's teenager and lead character Charley as he flirts with the woman across the street who is almost twice his young years. This lighter moment and the next ten to fifteen minutes all feel more romantic comedy than horror as you are introduced to Charley's girlfriend and the groups that make up his high school. Yet Fright Night manages to keep you on your toes in subtle ways; kids are not turning up for class and Christopher Mintz-Plasse nerding it up as Ed who is convinced that there is more to the low school attendance than meets the eye. It plays with you, teasing you into making you unsure what you are watching. It is also a great introduction to the characters, and has that 'Kickass' feel to it as it puts the pieces in place. You know something big and nasty is coming and that it is just around the corner.

Around that corner is Jerry. Hammed up, over the top, wicked, creepy and ridiculously entertaining, the character is a masterpiece of a creation by Colin Farrell. Clearly relishing the chance to let his wild side run free, Jerry is easily the best Vampire that has been on film in many years. Every clunk that his boots make, every twitch of his eyes and every licking of his lips have been thought out for maximum effect. He makes you want to cover your face as well as laugh out loud at the same time. He couldn't be any more suspicious or creepy every moment he is on screen but you can't help but wanting him center stage every single second of Fright Night's 106 minute running time.

From the second Charley is introduced to Jerry by his mother Jane, Fright Night gathers momentum and keeps it going at a strong pace throughout. There are some lulls in the process, often when Jerry isn't on screen but Fright Night keeps the interest high with a second act that takes on an 'Insomnia' feel which focuses on Charley's suspicions in his neighbours actions. There is something undeniably fun in having Charley spying on a man who clearly knows he is being spied on and one of the most memorable moments is the culmination of a set piece which has Jerry smiling to himself at the trick he has played on his neighbour.

As Mintz-Plasse's Ed gets an early bench it is confirmed that Jerry is a beast of the night and he litters the lighter moments as Charley struggles to hide his suspicions from his neighbour as well as dealing with the consequences of his weird behaviour with his mother and girlfriend. Whilst Charley is by no means a brilliant character, Anton Yelchin does a decent job at keeping you rooting for his good guy to prevail. He is helped by two stronger performances from Toni Collette as Jane and Imogen Poots as girlfriend Amy. Both wooed by Jerry's good looks and tricked by his facade they fail to see the threat he provides until it is too late as well as also providing plenty of humour at their confusion when Charley litters the house in crosses and onions.

Fright Night plays off all the Vampire cliches but manages to keep them fresh by cleverly choosing not to focus on them too blatantly. The entire film is much more concerned with creating great characters and it is a success as a result. After a big action sequence and car chase that splits the film down the middle by shifting the action from the home town suburbia to Las Vegas, Fright Night leaves behind the creeps for a while and chooses to focus on getting to grips with some back story on the villains.

This is where David Tennant enters the fray. In what is probably his biggest Hollywood outing to date, the former Doctor Who is so good as illusionist Peter Vincent that he gives Colin Farrell a run for his money in terms of which character is more fun to watch. Also over the top, foul mouthed, mysterious and bluntly honest Peter Vincent is the man to go to when there is a Vampire in town. His Las Vagas apartment is brimmed full of Vampire artefacts and lore, and Charley and Amy seek his help in stopping Jerry from wiping them out. Initially sceptical, Peter finds himself forced into action as Fright Night packs in more punches with plenty of surprises and memorable moments as Jerry finds where his foes are hiding.

All of film leads up to the inevitable showdown between Jerry and Charley, and it is perfect in its concept and execution. Scary, freaky, emotional, funny, violent and dangerous Fright Night's climax is crammed full of everything that it wants to be and even gives the audience a moment where Farrell and Tennant share the screen in perhaps the funniest moment of all. Everything wraps up nicely and it leaves nothing unanswered. Fright Night just delivers and it delivers well.

Once the credits roll and you reflect on what was perhaps quite predictable about its ending, you can't deny that it was an inventive and incredibly fun ride to get there. In many ways with a title such as Fright Night it sounds like an event, an almost self aware title that demands your night be packed with frights.

It is in this case that Fright Night's true success is clearly visible to all. It manages to succeed and also go beyond just a fright night to become one of the most engaging and entertaining films of the year. It may not break any box office records with its niche plot but it proves a point that there is still space for a horror film that feels old school in its execution.

More importantly, it proves there's still life for a real, proper vampire film, in this post-Twilight world.

You know what I mean. Fangs, blood, menace & spooks. Hallelujah!

8/10

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Twitter: @AdDHarris
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