by Michael Koresky and Adam Nayman
Forget all the majestically splashed buckets of gore. Forget the unexpectedly rousing highway car chase, in which a vampire proves to be as malleably invincible as a T-1000. Put aside for now even those jarring ghastly vampire grins as mile-wide as Dolly Parton’s new mouth. What Craig Gillespie’s Fright Night remake really excels at is exposition. Early in the film, high-school nerd Ed (Hollywood geek-king Christopher Mintz-Plasse of Superbad) is explaining to his former best buddy, and the film’s protagonist, Charley (Anton Yelchin), that he strongly suspects Charley is living next door to a vampire—and not a vampire in the sparkly 2011 sense, but of the classical, Bram Stoker variety. But Gillespie stages the long, dialogue-heavy sequence not in, say, the school cafeteria or an overly set-designed teen bedroom, but rather in the windy interiors of a Las Vegas suburban tract home at dusk, filmed in magnificently murky gray-blue by Javier Agguiresarobe (yes, he shot some Twilight movies, but also last decade’s best-in-show ghost story The Others). As Ed and Charley creep through the echoey rooms, we glean nearly all the film’s pertinent information, both in terms of the new cold-blooded threat on the block and these two kids’ foundering friendship: Charley was also once a role-playing dorkus maximus and has left Ed behind since he emerged from acres of acne to baby-handsome borderline coolness (Mintz-Plasse’s well-practiced lisping impudence and Yelchin’s fragile stabs at indifference are perfectly played here). Continue reading.