Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Imogen Poots, David Tennant, Toni Collette and Dave Franco.
Running Time: 106 mins. Approx
Seen at: The Trafford Centre’s Odeon Cinemas.
On: Tuesday 6th September, 2011.
As those chilly autumnal nights start to draw in, and with Halloween just around the corner, how fitting then that DreamWorks Pictures have cleverly chosen to release a film which encapsulates so many of the more classic elements of cinematic horror.
A remake of the 1985 original starring Roddy McDowell of Cleopatra fame, this suburban shocker is jammed full of the more traditional, old-fashioned conventions: – doors creaking ajar, shadows creeping up on walls and house-phones ringing endlessly. These only count in its favour, solidifying it as a simple, straightforward, yet always highly effective example of the much-used genre.
What modernizes it, making it suit predominantly the teenage or early twenties audiences of today, is its 3D element. Whilst some critics have been quick to give the rise of 3D a decidedly cold reception, it only ever adds to the experience, tenfold in fact, in my opinion. Many movies either overuse this revolutionary tool, thus erasing its impact, or don’t use it nearly enough, not utilizing it to its full fruition.
Here however, whether it’s the pierce of a crossbow’s arrow, the punch of a stake, or a splatter of fresh-fanged blood, there’s just the right amount of three-dimensional flourish present to compliment and enhance, giving proceedings a bold added flair.
For all its jumpy scares, tonally it manages to also equal the balance between being just as funny as it is (not all that, thankfully), frightening.
Its protagonist is young Charley Brewster (a relatable and always likeable Anton Yelchin), an average teenager who turns from monster-skeptic to vengeful hunter when he finds out that his brawny neighbour Jerry (Colin Farrell, clearly having a lot of fun), is actually a bloodsucking vampire...
Recently, Colin Farrell has played so many heavily serious roles where his character’s either highly conflicted or guilt-ridden (Crazy Heart, The Way Back, London Boulevard), so it’s refreshing to see him in material that’s much lighter – he revels in being so relentlessly evil. Cinematographically though, the film is somewhat Hitchcockian. As Charley becomes increasingly suspicious over Jerry’s motives and the body count starts to drop, he resorts to spying on ‘the vampire next door’ with referenced binocular scenes reminiscent of the great voyeurism of 1954’s Rear Window and it’s far more recent homage – 2007’s Disturbia.
A strong sense of eerie atmospherics is helped enormously by a chillingly irreverent musical score. As soon as those opening bars of choral pipes emit their foreboding sense of doom in the main theme – the tone is set for the rest of the film – fun, fast and never taking itself too seriously.
The leads are given hilarious support from David Tennant in the flamboyant role of a television vampire slayer who’s all high theatrics and heavy eye shadow – his character makes swearing into an art form.
The screenplay is peppered with plenty of witty one liners, and when Jerry is in his fully-fledged vampire mode – some suitably impressive CGI is truly allowed to let rip.
In terms of popular movie genres, a horror comedy is difficult, as it’s important to have both in just the right quantities – horror for the dedicated fans, and plenty of comedy so that the laughs are just as frequent as the occasional scream. Luckily, as was also the case with Scream 4 before it – this has both, in spades.
Overall – tongue-in-cheek, frenetic and full of energy, this is a worthy addition to the comedy horror cannon – with plenty of…bite!
Rating: * * * *