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Fright Night: Blu-ray + DVD Review

Fright Night (2011) movie poster Fright Night

Theatrical Release: August 19, 2011 / Running Time: 106 Minutes / Rating: R / Songs List

Director: Craig Gillespie / Writers: Martin Noxon (screenplay), Tom Holland (story and film)

Cast: Anton Yelchin (Charley Brewster), Colin Farrell (Jerry Dandrige), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Evil Ed Thompson), David Tennant (Peter Vincent), Imogen Poots (Amy Peterson), Toni Collette (Jane Brewster), Dave Franco (Mark), Emily Montague (Doris), Will Denton (Adam Johnson), Reid Ewing (Ben), Chris Sarandon (Jay Dee), Grace Phipps (Bee), Chelsea Tavares (Cara), Lisa Loeb (Victoria Thompson), Brian Huskey (Rick Thompson), Michael Miller (Store Guy), Marya Beauvais (Mrs. Granada), Kent Kirkpatrick (Teacher)

Buy Fright Night (2011) from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy DVD Instant Video

Clearly, no 1980s horror movie is safe from the possibility of a remake. With New Line having updated the decade's two biggest franchise starters in 2009's Friday the 13th and last year's Nightmare on Elm Street, we're now left to tackle more obscure genre selections,
movies that struck a chord with the first generation of VHS and cable fright seekers and remain to some degree revered by genre fans, but whose titles don't necessarily identify themselves as a remake to the general public. To the likes of Prom Night, The Stepfather, My Bloody Valentine, and The Hitcher, we can now add Fright Night.

The directorial debut of Tom Holland, who also single-handedly wrote it, the original Fright Night was a solid mid-range hit for Columbia Pictures in 1985, grossing just under $25 million, which translates to a $55 M take today. It spawned a sequel in Fright Night Part II, which received limited theatrical release in the spring of 1989 without any involvement from Holland. With sparkly romantic vampires in vogue today, this new filming looks to restore some bite to the genre with its faithful yet fresh take on the R-rated horror comedy.

Las Vegas teen and reformed dweeb Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) has his easygoing nature tested by... ...Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell), the vampire next door who is looking for an invitation inside here.

High school life is pretty good for Las Vegas teenager Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin). His dorky past behind him, Charley has a girlfriend (28 Weeks Later's Imogen Poots) and that's enough to keep him happy. When dorky old best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad's McLovin) warns Charley that his hunky new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is a deadly vampire responsible for a number of their classmates' sudden unexplained disappearances, Charley reacts with understandable skepticism. Then, Ed disappears and we know all too well that he was telling the truth. Despite his ordinary name and appearance, tank-topped, apple-chomping Jerry is absolutely a bloodthirsty vampire.

Increasingly convinced of this, Charley becomes concerned, believing his girlfriend, his single mom (Toni Collette), and, most of all, himself to be in great danger. Though he knows some of the rules, like a vampire can't harm you unless you invite him into your home, he follows through on one of Ed's last pieces of advice and consults celebrity magician Peter Vincent (David Tennant, "Doctor Who"), who is in the midst of mounting an ambitious stage show. Initially dismissive of Charley's pleas for help, Vincent reveals he is not a complete sham and has a good deal of first-hand knowledge of how to deal with a vampire problem.

With a runtime and character names identical to those of the 1985 version, I suspect that this remake doesn't depart too greatly from Holland's work, which earns him both "based on" and story credit. The screenplay by longtime "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" scribe Marti Noxon succeeds at bringing us into the present day (including an obligatory Twilight mention), but the film still somehow possesses the feel of a 1980s product, a tad innocent and driven largely by fun. There are plenty of four-letter words and buckets of blood, but the film maintains an appropriate levity to it. It isn't the wry, ironic humor that Kevin Williamson helped make a staple of modern horror, just something to ease (but not break) the tension. The approach keeps Fright Night from being broody and renders it more of a mystery and an adventure than a slasher or splatter flick.

At first, leather panted TV magician Peter Vincent (David Tennant) seems of little help to Charley. The warnings of "Evil" Ed Thompson (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) fall on deaf ears.

The cast brings a lot of personality to the film. Yelchin is a likable lead and at 22 makes for a more convincing teenager than many an older horror protagonist. Oddly deprived poster billing, Poots is good across from him, granting her part a little more substance than the straightforward love interest it's written as. She does a perfect job of hiding her native accent, as does Collette, who is nicely but sparingly used.
Colin Farrell isn't as consistent about shedding his brogue, but the actor has fun with the juicy part, relishing the suave side of the hateable antagonist in what might have been envisioned as his comeback summer. In the role originated by Roddy McDowall, Tennant makes one of the bigger impressions as a classic Alduous Snow-type bad boy rock star who comes around and scores some laughs.

The film does seem to peak a little too early, as its strong set-up gives way to decent but unextraordinary set pieces, like a county highway car chase. Director Craig Gillespie, making his horror debut after helming hundreds of commercials, the 2007 comedies Lars and the Real Girl and Mr. Woodcock, and Collette's Showtime comedy "United States of Tara", proves competent but not outstanding at staging such moments. Though it cracks jokes along the way, Fright Night takes its plot seriously and can only fly so high on account of that. There are really only two different ways for the film to play out and it takes the more likely and satisfying path. If short on surprises and ultimately not something you're likely to brandish a favorite, the movie is consistently diverting and never stupid, no minor achievements in this genre.

Putting up one of the year's worst box office performances for a 3,000-theater release with only $18 million grossed domestically and another $19 M overseas, Fright Night recently made its home video as a single-disc DVD, a two-disc Blu-ray + DVD, and a three-disc Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack. Disney, distributing this as part of their otherwise fruitful partnership with DreamWorks Pictures, sent us the two-disc set for review.

Watch a clip from Fright Night (2011):

Fright Night (2011): Blu-ray + DVD combo cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Both: Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French
Not Closed Captioned; Most Extras Subtitled
Release Date: December 13, 2011
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snaps in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP), Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy ($44.99 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Presented in 1.78:1, Fright Night looks great on Blu-ray. As the genre and title indicate, this is a dark movie, albeit one which goes easy on the blacks in favor of gradients of primary colors. That design has its appeal in the clean and sharp hi-def transfer. Even more impressive is the 7.1 DTS-HD master audio mix, which makes fine use of the soundfield throughout to deliver effective atmosphere and powerful jolts.

In sampling, I found the DVD offers excellent picture and sound by that format's standards, though the limitations of standard definition are evident to someone now accustomed to 1080p.

Peter Vincent (David Tennant) grants a brief interview in "Come Swim in My Mind." A stake is shown in "The Official How to Make a Funny Vampire Movie Guide." Charley (Anton Yelchin) stands up to Mark (Dave Franco) in this deleted lunch scene.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD extras slate begins with "Peter Vincent: Come Swim in My Mind" (2:09), a short in-character interview with the magician (David Tennant) that is seasoned with behind-the-scenes looks at his new show and, rendering the concept half-assed, just some clips of Vincent from Fright Night.

"The Official 'How to Make a Funny Vampire Movie' Guide" (8:04) dispenses rules Fright Night plays by, with a multitude of cast and crew members supplying sound bites on the film's design, violence, and use of lore.

A Deleted & Extended Scenes section (4:51) consists of four of the former and one of the latter. There are some amusing moments, such as a little school lunchtime fight, but nothing that would have greatly changed the course of the film.

There is a bit more Squid Man (Anton Yelchin) and Kid Comeback in this extended short home movie. Kid Cudi seems to be aiming for vampire, but ends up a bit more like E.T.'s Elliot in his "No One Believes Me" music video. Blood slowly drips down over the characters on the DVD's main menu.

"Squid Man: Extended & Uncut" (2:56) shows us more of the low-tech fantasy/horror movie made by Charley and friends in his dweeb phases. The joke doesn't get better with this prolonged, but it's fun to see the actors clearly having fun.

A reel of bloopers (3:23) features profanity-laced goofs and laughter-inspiring ad libs.
It's no surprise that the production had a sense of humor.

Things draw to a close with Kid Cudi's uncensored music video for original end credits tune "No One Believes Me" (5:21). It evokes the film with the singer creeping around sleeping people's bedrooms like a less menacing version of Colin Farrell's character. It's certainly creative and faithful to the movie's spirit.

Sensibly, the DVD is the same as the one sold on its own. Because Blu-ray always comes with some exclusives these days, the DVD goes without "The Official 'How to Make a Funny Vampire Movie' Guide", the deleted scenes, and the Peter Vincent short. That leaves it with only the bloopers, "Squid Man", and Kid Cudi music video, as plenty of disc space goes to waste.

Both discs open with trailers for fellow Touchstone/DreamWorks films Real Steel, War Horse, and The Help. The same three play from the "Sneak Peeks" listing, where they are followed by a promo for ABC shows on DVD.

The scored, stylish menu montage freezes on characters before covering them in blood. The BD resumes playback of the movie, only after reshowing you the skippable disc-loading trailers.

The colorful Blu-ray and bland gray DVD claim opposite sides of a side-snapped Blu-ray case which is topped by an embossed, reflective cardboard slipcover and fitted with a booklet promoting Touchstone Blu-rays.

Embers of fire fly as Charley (Anton Yelchin) and Amy (Imogen Poots) try to slay a vampire.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Fright Night's greatest appeal lies with those ravenous for a horror remake that doesn't suck. This entertaining film doesn't suck, but it is unlikely to wow anyone who isn't a genre fan. Even those who are will probably be content with one viewing. The Blu-ray combo pack delivers a solid feature presentation and a decent half-hour of extras. If you're among the minority who appreciates Blu-ray 3D and digital copies, the 4-disc combo will only set you back an additional $5.

Buy Fright Night (2011) from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy DVD Instant Video / Buy the original Fright Night (1985): DVD Blu-ray Instant Video

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Anton Yelchin: The Beaver Middle of Nowhere The Smurfs New York, I Love You | Imogen Poots: 28 Weeks Later Solitary Man
Colin Farrell: Horrible Bosses The Way Back Scrubs: The Complete Fourth Season | Toni Collette: The Night Listener
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Kick-Ass Superbad | David Tennant: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Written by Tom Holland: Child's Play | Written by Marti Noxon: I Am Number Four
Horror Remakes: Prom Night (2008) Friday the 13th (2009) The Crazies (2010) Piranha (2010) The Uninvited (2009)
Vampires: Let Me In Priest Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Jennifer's Body The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Ugly Americans: Volume One

Fright Night Songs List (in order of use): Brian De Mercia - "Blank Sabbath", Alexander - "Bad Bad Love", Foster the People - "Pumped Up Kicks", Christopher Lennertz and Zachary Ryan - "Lokdown", Ceramic - "Velvet Coat", Figure & Groove - "The Shadow", Young the Giant - "Cough Syrup", Craig Sharmat - "Real Housewives of New Jersey Opening Theme", Aaron R. Kaplan and Harold B. Sanders III - "Agogo", Tom Torhan - "Bring Up the Bass", Aaron R. Kaplan and Harold B. Sanders III - "Take 15", Chuck Lovejoy - "Pop It Up", Henning Lohner, Uwe Boll, and Jason Burnett - "Dark Destiny", Kid Cudi featuring MGMT & Ratatat - "Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)", Lupe Fiasco featuring Sarah Green - "Letting Go", Sebastian Morawietz - "Don't Fade Away (Choir & Orchestra)", Jet Horns - "I Was Once a Glass of Tang", Unkle - "Restless", Blue Van - "I'm a Man", Hugo - "99 Problems", Kid Cudi - "No One Believes Me"

Buy Fright Night: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Music by Ramin Djawadi) from Amazon.com: CD MP3 Download

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Reviewed December 19, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Touchstone Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Michael De Luca Productions,
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