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Fright Night (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 4, 2011 by  



Entertaining, hilarious and action-packed, this 2011 version of “Fright Night” may not be the scariest vampire film ever created but it’s definitely one of the more exciting, comedy/action vampire films ever made!  I usually don’t use the word “fun” when reviewing a vampire film, but “Fright Night” was a lot of fun, especially coming from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” writer, Marti Noxon.

Images courtesy of ©2011 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fright Night

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 106 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: DreamWorks Pictures/Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Bloody Horror Violence and Language including some Sexual Reference)

Release Date: December 13, 2011

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Screenplay by Marti Noxon

Based on Tom Holland’s story and film “Fright Night”

Produced by Alison R. Rosenzweig, Michael De Luca

Executive Producer: Ray Angelic, Josh Bratman, Michael J. Gaeta, Lloyd Ivan Miller

Music by Ramin Djawadi

Cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe

Edited by Tatiana S. Riegel

Casting by Jo Edna Boldin, Allison Jones

Production Design by Richard Bridgland

Art Direction by Randy Moore

Set Decoration by K.C. Fox

Costume Design by Susan Matheson

Starring:

Anton Yelchin as Charley Brewster

Colin Farrell as Jerry

Toni Collette as Jane Brewster

David Tennant as Peter Vincent

Imogen Poots as Amy

Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Ed

Dave Franco as Mark

Reid Ewing asBen

Will Denton as Adam

Sandra Vergara as Ginger

Emily Montague as Doris

Charley (Anton Yelchin) is a high school senior who’s on top of the world—he’s running with the popular crowd and dating Amy (Imogen Poots), the most coveted girl in school. But trouble arrives when Jerry (Colin Farrell) moves in next door. He seems like a nice guy––at first. But there’s something not quite right, and no one else, including Charley’s mom (Toni Collette) seems to notice. After his classmates start to mysteriously disappear without a trace, Charlie discovers that there is more to his new neighbor than meets the eye. Now he must do all he can to protect his mom and girlfriend Amy from meeting the same fate as his best friend Ed Thompson (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

While there are some who may remember the 1985 horror film “Fright Night” written by Tom Holland, and its sequel in 1988, with many remakes of popular horror films happening more and more, what happens if the task of writing a screenplay is given to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” writer Marti Noxon?

Let’s just say that while not a horror/slasher type of film, you do get the humor that was quite prevalent in those popular TV series that Noxon was involved with and also the feeling of a homage to the Scooby Gang than redoing the same kind of film that was released in ’85.  And director Craig Gillespie doing something different than his previous films “Lars and the Real Girl”, “Mr. Woodcock” and the TV series “United States of Tara”.

Also, unlike the earlier film’s, this latest adaptation would benefit from better visual effects but also a change in storyline compared to the original film.  Where the original focused on a horror fan of the TV series “Fright Night” and an actor who played a vampire killer, there are differences that keep the original 1985 film original and this 2011 version is a different type of film that uses the character’s names, modernizes the storyline and is essentially a different film.

While the film wasn’t a major hit in the box office, it did receive many positive reviews from film critics.  And for fans of “Buffy the Vampire” and “Angel”, because of Noxon’s involvement, there was a little homage to those series in the film, as well as to the original film that made fans interested and entertained.  And also to “Doctor Who” fans who love David Tennant’s work as the doctor and want to see him play the vampire hunter, Peter Vincent.

The film is set in Las Vegas and a commercial is played for Peter Vincent, a vampire hunter who has his own show in Vegas with special effects and scantily clad women pretending to be vampires.  But we are then taken to the bedroom where we see a dead woman laying on the bed and a man dead next to the bed. A young boy takes his father’s gun and tries to put the bullets in but is immediately found by a vampire and is killed.

We are then introduced to teenager Charley Brewster (played by Anton Yelchin, “Terminator Salvation”, “Star Trek”, “Charlie Bartlett”), a normal teenager who lives with his mother Jane (played by Toni Collette, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “United States of Tara”, “Little Miss Sunshine”) and is dating one of the popular girls at school, Amy Peterson (played by Imogen Poots, “V for Vendetta”, “28 Weeks Later”, “Solitary Man”).

While life is going well for Charley and he is seen hanging around bullies like Mark (played by Dave Franco, “Superbad”, “Milk”, “Charlie St. Cloud”), at school, he notices a few kids missing from class.  And he is asked by a student named Ed (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, “Superbad”, “Kick-Ass”, “Role Models”) to meet him after class.

We then learn that Charley and Ed used to be best friends at school and would one of their other friends are missing.  Ed tells him that even though Charley is popular now, they should check their friend’s house  to see what happened.  Because Charley has this new life with his girlfriend and his new friends, he is uninterested.  That is until Ed tells him that he has compromising pictures of Charley masturbating with a Stretch Armstrong toy and immediately Charley changes his tone and tells Ed they will look into their friend’s disappearance.

When Charley arrives home, he sees his mother talking to their new neighbor, a man named Jerry Dandridge (played by Colin Farrell, “Phone Booth”, “Miami Vice”, “Alexander”).  Jerry knows how to talk to women and is flirting with Charley’s mother.  But immediately he receives a message from Ed to meet him at their friend’s home, so Charley leaves immediately.  Jerry looks at Charley with suspicion.

Charley and Ed meet and break into their friend’s home.  Ed tells him that Charley’s new neighbor is a vampire.  They have been investigating him and it has made Ed and their other friend a target.  Charley doesn’t believe any of it and thinks that his friend has the same imagination that he had when they were younger and both end up separating as Ed warns him, Charley doesn’t listen.

As Ed is walking home, he runs into the bully Mark who is about to chase him down.  As Ed runs away, he ends up jumping backyards and lands in a home where Jerry is waiting for him.  Unfortunately, Ed left his vampire weapons while running away from Mark and all he has is a small cross.  Jerry bites down on Ed and he is gone.

The following day at school, Charley notices that Ed didn’t show up and now he is concerned.  He goes to visit Ed’s home and tells his parents he needs to pick up a book in his room, and they let him in.  Inside, Charley finds detailed writings left by Ed on how to defeat vampires and sees a website for Las Vegas vampire hunter Peter Vincent (played by David Tennant, “Doctor Who”, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”).

When Charley arrives back home, it is dusk and immediately Jerry knocks on the door to get some beer.  One of the things Ed told Charley is that vampires can’t enter a home unless they are invited and sure enough, Jerry is unable to go inside the home.  So, Charley tests things out and sure enough, Jerry can’t walk in.  As Charley tries to give the beer to Jerry and sees if Jerry would extend his arm inside the house, he notices he can’t.  Charley gives Jerry the beer and Jerry starts to tell Charley of how his mom is weak without a father and needs a man.  And then goes on to talk about his girlfriend and Charley begins to suspect even more that Jerry is indeed a vampire.

When Charley goes upstairs, he finds his girlfriend Amy waiting for him and wanting to have sex.  But Charley is not in the mood.  He sees his blonde neighbor Doris in a date with Jerry and Jerry spots both of them looking at him with anger.  Charley tries to explain to Amy that Jerry is a bad man but doesn’t go into details.  But Amy thinks it’s Charley trying to get out of having sex with her and leaves, upset at Charley.

As Charley goes to sleep, he is awakened in the morning by a scream and believes that perhaps Jerry has done something to Doris.  Charley sneaks into Jerry’s home and notices that he has these secret rooms where he keeps his victims.  He finds Doris and manages to free her.  He escapes with her but immediately she blows up into dust due to sunlight.  Which leaves Charley to believe that Jerry is turning his victims into vampires.

With all that has happened, Charley decides to visit Peter Vincent and poses as a journalist.  Charley immediately tells him that he needs Peter’s help to take on a vampire.  Peter tells him that what he sees is a facade of Las Vegas entertainment and that he is not a real vampire hunter.  Peter leaves photos of what he took inside of Jerry’s home and leaves it with Peter Vincent as he is ushered out of Peter’s apartment.

When Charley gets home, he immediately goes into full alert by putting crosses all over the windows. While he is doing this, his friends including Mark watch and wonder if Charley has become religious.  But immediately, the two are attacked by Jerry.

When Charley’s mother and even Amy arrive, they don’t know what is happening with Charley.  Charley tries to explain how Jerry is a bad man and that they should not let Jerry into the home.  He tries to explain that Jerry is a vampire and of course, both women don’t believe him.  That is until Jerry arrives and tells Jane that her son broke into his house.  But believing in her son, she tells Jerry to call the authorities instead of letting him in.

Upset with the answer, they watch Jerry take a shovel and go to their backyard and watch him dig and pull out a gas line and literally blows up Charley’s house.  Now they know that Jerry is a bad guy, but when they try to escape by vehicle, they are under attack by Jerry and realize…he is not human, he really is a vampire.

Will any of them survive the night as Jerry is on the hunt after them?

VIDEO:

“Fright Night” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1).  The Picture quality is fantastic!  There are a lot of detail’s that can be seen, from the detail on the clothing, the weapons, the blood on the characters.  Plenty of detail can be seen in this film from Amy’s blue eyes, the detail on the CG of Jerry’s vampire face, the edges and contour of Peter Vincent’s collection and more! Also, it helps to have a talented cinematographer, Javier Aguirresarobe (“The Others”, “Twilight: New Moon”, “The Twilight Saga: Elclipse”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) working on the film.  Javier does a wonderful job in capturing the action sequences with complete efficacy!

Skin tones are natural, black levels are deep and no artifacts, banding (especially during the more fire and red intensive scenes) or traces of DNR.  This is an awesome looking film on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fright Night” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  What an immersive soundtrack!  I was so happy to hear the rear surrounds being used in this film, I was very impressed!  While the film starts out with a lot of dialogue and is crystal clear through the center channel and also ambient effects and music through the front channel, the movie builds with noises from glass being broken, to the scream of Doris but once you get into the action sequences featuring Charley, Amy and his mother being pursued by Jerry, the film becomes immersive!

From the sounds of a motorcycle hitting the back window, Jane running straight into Jerry and the vampire trying to come from below in order to kill his victims or the scrape of metal as it hits the pavement.  From this point on to the film, the film is so immersive because of the continual action sequences that I really enjoyed this lossless soundtrack.  Action kept going and going, ambiance via the club or crowds is heard clearly.  If anything, audio quality like the video is fantastic!

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Fright Night” comes with the following special features:

  • Peter Vincent: Come Swim in My Mind – (2:09) An interview with Peter Vincent (the character played by David Tennant).
  • The Official “How to Make a Funny Vampire Movie” Guide – (8:04) Craig Gillespie, Marti Noxon and the producers and cast talk about necessary things to have in a vampire film.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes – (4:51) Featuring five deleted scenes: Ride to School, Neighborly, Once a Freak Always a Freak, Midori & Kerosene and Back at the Penthouse.
  • Squidman: Extended and Uncut – (2:58) Featuring the extended, uncut version of the squidman home video that Charley and his friends took when they were younger.
  • Bloopers – (3:23) Outtakes from “Fright Night”.
  • Kid Cudi – “No One Believes Me” Music Video – (5:21)

EXTRAS:

“Fright Night” comes with a slipcover case and DVD with feature film and special features.  The DVD is presented in widescreen (1:78:1) aspect ratio – enhanced for 16×9 televisions.  Audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 DVS, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

While I’m not so fond of ’70s and ’80s horror films because they still continue to scare the hell out of me… “Fright Night” is one of those horror films that may have some scares but by no means is it a horror, slasher film or anything that is overly grotesque.

In fact, when I found out that Marti Noxon wrote the screenplay and that Craig Gillespie was directing, I wasn’t thinking of horror film.  Knowing Noxon’s style of writing for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the “Angel” TV series, she is a writer that tries to bring together comedy, horror but also gives things a more stylish presentation for today’s viewers.  While Craig Gillespie is also a character driven director and both working together was actually quite effective.

In some ways, minus Joss Whedon and the fact that fans have wished on a real “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” movie since the TV series had ended, this 2011 version of “Fright Night” almost felt like an extension of those series.  A homage to those Whedon TV series that a lot of us grew up watching way before “Twilight” and the other countless vampire related films and TV series that are currently ongoing.

And I can easily say that because Marti Noxon wrote the screenplay, was a major incentive of me wanting to watch this film because I knew I was not going to have a bloody horrorfest but a film that will be action-packed and entertaining!  While it will be quite subjective for those who saw the original 1985 film and this 2011 version of which is better and which is not, I’m more on the latter side, that I enjoyed this 2011 film a lot!

First, Colin Farrell does a fantastic job of playing the antagonist, Jerry the vampire.  You know that he is the bad boy that the women are going to fall for and also the actor does a great job of playing the villain!  Anton Yelchin looks like the underdog.  As Charley, a kid we don’t expect much from in defending his family, yet himself from a vampire attack, so you root for the underdog.  Especially for his girlfriend Amy (played by Imogen Poots) and his mother Jane (Toni Collette).

But also having David Tennant (which alone will have “Dr. Who” fans excited) as the vampire hunter, Peter Vincent was a big plus!  Especially to have Tennant play this bombastic character, so different from Roddy McDowall’s 1985 performance.  If anything, Tennant made this rude and aggressive character his own.

But also to having this film set in Las Vegas to help explain the Peter Vincent, Vampire Hunter show and also why Jerry has blacked-out windows (because people in Las Vegas work at nights and sleep during the day), works well for this film.

But one advantage that the 2011 version film has its technology and it’s talented crew behind it.  Aside from Gillespie and Noxon, for cinematography, you have “Twilight: New Moon” and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, art director Randy Moore (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, “The Mask”), costume designer Susan Matheson (“The Kingdom”, “The Town”, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”), production designer Richard Bridgland (“Resident Evil”, “AVP: Alien vs. Predator”), Set decorator K.C. Fox (“Speed”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and many more.  DreamWorks Pictures really tapped into a talented crew for this 2011 version of the film.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic!  I wish there was an audio commentary but you still get a good number of special features included with this Blu-ray release.  And also, with this Blu-ray release, you get a DVD feature of the film, so since this will be released before Christmas, something people can watch during those long travel commutes or during winter vacation.

Overall, “Fright Night” is not so much of a horror film.  If you have watched a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Angel” episode, you know it’s about comedy, its characters and of course, these characters trying to survive from vampires.  While the original definitely had hints of a sequel toward the end, this 2011 film did not. But then again, with so much interest in vampire films and vampire television shows, I wouldn’t be surprised if more “Fright Night” films would be made.

If so, I hope it retains the same type of vibe as the 2011 version as I do love what Marti Noxon has brought to the original screenplay.  Especially with so many horror films coming out each year, it’s great to have something not too banal in which you have a vampire film that is not all about the horror but a screenplay that manages to have fun and not having main characters dying off like other films.

Overall, “Fright Night” is an enjoyable, entertaining action-based, vampire film, it may not be scary enough for others…but for those who want to laugh and also enjoy the characters of the film, this one is for you!






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