Fright Night Review: Static Shocks

FRIGHT NIGHT (15): On General Release Friday 2nd September

Horror/comedy is a difficult genre to get right. Skew it too far towards horror and you risk shell-shocking your audience out of any ability to laugh; aim for too funny and your scares won’t have the desired effect.

2010’s Drag Me To Hell is a perfect example of when everything goes exactly right – it’s unnerving and hilarious in equal amounts (providing the cinema you saw it in has good sound – there were decidedly mixed results from people that didn’t have its brutal score boring a hole in the backs of their skulls).

Fright Night is a remake of the 1985 horror comedy classic of the same name and successfully treads the thin horror/comedy line. The result, while fun doesn’t do anything that the original did better but even so makes for an enjoyable adventure.

Things appear to be looking up for Charley, a teenager who’s starting to outgrow his geeky roots and now has a smoking hot girlfriend (Imogen Poots). Unfortunately, this means he’s had to ditch his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who doesn’t take kindly to having Charley’s back turned on him.
But when a new neighbour moves in and kids are found missing at school, Ed comes to Charley with evidence that his new neighbour might be a vampire. Initially sceptical, Charley quickly becomes a believer and eventually Van Helsing Junior, recruiting occult Las Vegas showman Peter Vincent (David Tennant) to do battle with the menace next door before he devours the entire block.

It all takes a while to get going but thankfully Anton Yelchin makes Charley a likeable and interesting character (ending a dodgy run of movies of late which have included Terminator 4, The Beaver and The Smurfs). Mintz-Plasse is also on form as former best-friend Ed (especially so during his frustrated attempts to get Charley to pay attention) even if he is playing the same angry geek that he has done since the beginning of his career in Superbad.

Yelchin and Mintz-Plasse are good but Farrell and Tennant are better. Farrell in particular is clearly having a great time and he’s the perfect fit for a vampire – he’s charismatic, good looking and has exactly the kind of bad boy image and predatory leer which makes it all too easy to believe that he could be a night-walking blood-sucker. He’s so much more fun when he’s playing an outright villain and not troubled by that boring thing called a conscience.

Tennant too appears to be having a fun, throwing himself into the part of a absinthe-slugging Vegas showman with obvious relish. There’s a little too much of the Russell Brand about him when we first meet him and his laugh potential is sadly underused especially considering he could easily have been a comedy goldmine.

The effects are adequate if nothing spectacular – human to vampire transformations are appropriately visceral (and much more brutal and animalistic than anything seen in the clean and relatively bloodless world of Twilight). There’s also nothing here to justify the use of 3D – a few obligatory spurts of blood are thrown the audience’s way and there’s a good use of stray embers from fires but nothing worth t he additional ticket price.

Fright Night is a fun remake which doesn’t disgrace the memory of its source material (there’s also a nice cameo by original vamp Chris Sarandon) and has a cast which is clearly having a blast but it’s certainly nothing to scream about.

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