Welcome to Fright Night. After witnessing some strange mischief going on next door, High School Senior Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) suspects that his new neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell), is not only responsible for disappearances of his neighbors, but that he is might be a vampire. He turns to illusionist (and self-proclaimed) vampire slayer, Peter Vincent (David Tennant), his mom (Toni Collette), girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) to help him to destroy Jerry, before Jerry kills them all.
While Yelchin and Poots are fine in their parts (he is “every boy”. She is pretty, sweet and spunky), Christopher Mintz-Plasse also deserves a mention, as Charlie’s ex-best friend Ed and Toni Collette (as usual) makes the most of whatever she is given to do. But Fright Night belongs almost entirely to David Tennant and Colin Farrell, who know full well they are in a campy horror film and make the most of every moment.
It takes awhile, but when Farrell finally goes into full vamp mode, Fright Night finally becomes the thrill ride it is meant to be. The main reason being, Farrell was born to play a vampire. He not only has the charm to believably pull victims toward him, he also has the gravitas to be threatening and scary. His vamp is not touchy feely and misunderstood. He is, as one of the characters says, “Jaws”. Farrell is so good at these parts. One but has to remember he has the range to play sweet, innocent and guileless (A Home at the End of the World) and he can also be extremely funny (In Bruges).
David Tennant’s performance is the perfect counterpoint to Farrell’s. Tennant\’s comic timing is flawless. The film finally starts to have fun when he finally appears. He was inspired casting as the illusionist, Peter Vincent, who is (literally) nothing that he appears to be (we find out his whole public persona is an illusion). Vincent is a boozed out Vegas success, always with a snarky quip ready to fling playfully at others and a bottle (or flask) of Midori close at hand.
Fright Night is at its funniest when Tennant is milking laughs, often transforming what are mundane, throwaway lines into some of the most memorable scenes in the film. But it is also the amusing physical “bits” that he creates, many of which clearly were improvised, which add to the delight of his performance. (Such as the removal of his Vincent “costume”.) Many Americans, who are not Sci Fi fans, will no doubt come out of Fright Night wondering who that “new” guy is playing Peter Vincent. If Fright Night does even moderately well at the box office, this is the kind of “break out” role that can finally get Tennant noticed by a larger American audience and get him offers for even bigger studio films (which depending on the roles may or may not be a good thing).
Fright Night is an unapologetic campy, funny, old fashioned (in a good way) horror movie with enjoyable performances from its veteran cast, good use of 3-D technology (for once) and enough icky stuff (but not too much) to please almost everyone. It starts off at a rather sluggish pace, spending too much time on the “this can\’t be happening in the real world” moments and laying it on thick on how modern and 21st Century it is. But once it embraces its true roots, the film becomes one crazy, extremely entertaining ride, with plenty of “scary” moments that make you jump and squirm.