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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    A vampire film that doesn’t suck or sparkle

    Just when you think that American filmmakers couldn’t possibly make another vampire movie — they do. Arriving on the tail end of pop culture’s fanged feeding frenzy, “Fright Night” boasts the tagline: “You can’t run from evil when it lives next door.”

    From the commercials, “Fright Night” looks like a comedic low-budget slasher film with about as much promise as the 2010 flop “Vampires Suck.” But thanks to a cast that includes Anton Yelchin (“Star Trek”), David Tennant (“Doctor Who”) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Kick-Ass”), this movie delivers a lot more than expected. In addition to its all-star nerd actors, Marti Noxon, a well-known producer from iconic television shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Mad Men,” wrote the film.

    In the film, Charley Brewster (Yelchin) is a recovering nerd dealing with all the stereotypical issues of high-schoolers as he tries to make his way into the popular crowd. But along the way, he learns that his neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell), is a vampire. He must enlist the help of his geeky best friend, Ed (Mintz-Plasse), and midori-drinking stage-illusionist-turned-vampire-hunter Peter Vincent (Tennant) to save his mom (Toni Collette) and girlfriend (Imogen Poots) from Jerry’s lust for blood.

    Dripping with witty one-liners and rife with perfectly timed jokes, “Fright Night” is definitely hilarious — but not for the reasons you’d think. It’s not just another rip-off of the “Scary Movie” brand that tries way too hard to be funny. Instead, the film is a dark comedy that is both brilliantly self-aware and hilariously cognizant of the culture in which it exists. With direct references to “Twilight” and indirect homages to “Buffy,” the film pokes fun at the blood-sucking vampire-obsessed morbid curiosity running rampant in movie theaters today.

    “Fright Night” uses these preconceptions to take some typical movie conventions, and break all the right ones. Sure, there’s a brooding, black-haired, dark-clad vampire. But his name is Jerry and for a while it seems like all he really wants is a piece of Charley’s mom. “Fright Night” also follows the typical small-town massacre scenario, but it’s a lot more believable since the film takes place in Las Vegas — where people have an excuse to sleep all day, stay out all night and disappear unexpectedly.

    Of course, it has a few cliche moments, and does have to walk in the shadow of a 1985 film by the same name. Overall, however, “Fright Night” does something that we haven’t seen in quite a while: It takes a vampire-centric story line and makes it shine. No sparkle necessary.

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