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Monday, August 22, 2011

Fright Night (Release Date: 8-19-2011)

        Though the fact is seldom discussed, few mainstream actors are as polarizing as Colin Farrell. The thespian started out as a bad-boy and a heart-throb, a combination that seemed to intrigue American audiences less and less during a string of putrid career moves in the early-to-mid 2000's (Daredevil, Alexander, Miami Vice... I've got more if you need them). Farrell seems to have been making amends ever since, tying himself to highly touted directors (Woody Allen, Terry Gilliam, Peter Weir), and other well-regarded fare (Crazy Heart, In Bruges). More important than all of that, however, is Farrell's self-reinvention into One of Hollywood's premiere over-actors. Like Nicolas Cage or Ben Foster, Farrell often gives mediocre performances in standard material, but hand him a role like his deliriously villainous prison escapee in The Way Back, or his tool-of-an-employer in Horrible Bosses, and watch out!

        It makes perfect sense, then, to have given Farrell a try as the wildly over-the-top vampire-next-door in last weekend's remake of 1985's Fright Night. Anton Yelchin stars as Charley, a recovering nerd who is using his his new, smokin' hot girlfriend (Imogen Poots) and previously undiscovered sense of cool to distance himself from his old life, most especially former best-bud Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Ed is the first to notice that the kids around town have started going missing, but his proposal of a vampiric culprit, One named Jerry (Farrell) that just moved in next door to Charley, is met with scorn. Soon, however, Charley is no longer able to ignore the evidence, and something of a showdown develops between the scrawny high schooler and the 400-year-old undead.

        It's a pretty easy movie to summarize, a simple story that produces simple results. Much has been made about how Fright Night proves that horror remakes don't have to suck, but, with the great, big, hulking exception of last year's stunning Let Me In, it does seem to put a cap on just how good they can be. As helmed by stylistically-tame director Craig Gillespie, the movie is pretty standard stuff, forgettable the next morning with color-by-numbers scares, and a slew of characters that fail to make a lasting impression. Thank god then for Farrell, who gives what is simply, unbelievably, unquestionably One of the year's very best performances. His Jerry has a twitch or sound effect for just about every thought and situation imaginable, primarily neglecting to scare, but providing positively gut-busting physical comedy. His voice, his walk, his hair, his pauses in speech; Everything that Farrell does in the movie is made of comedic gold. To say that Farrell is the life of the party would be an understatement; If not for him, there would be no party, just a get together with not enough cold-cuts and no booze to speak of. He's the only real reason to see Fright Night, but, in all honesty, that might just be reason enough.

Grade: B-

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