Movies: Colin Farrell Scares in “Fright Night”, Channing Tatum Strips in “Magic Mike”

I know it's tempting but do not invite him in.

...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

Colin Farrell has something of a wolf's reputation as a celebrity and it serves him well in Fright Night, a remake of the 1985 vampire comedy, while playing a shameless monster. Yet, for all his rabid dog violence as vampire Jerry -- "a terrible name for a vampire!" --  the most adorable moment in his performance is positively kittenish. While stepping around a beam of sunlight during one action setpiece he hisses at it with instinctual annoyance. You can't scare sunlight away, dumb Jerry! It's a silly bit of actorly business but the new Fright Night soars whenever the cast or director are having a bloody good time.  Good times at the movies are as infectious as vampirism, though thankfully more common. 

Full disclosure: I've never seen the 1985 Fright Night and affections for previous versions usually dull love for new takes. But a quick bit of research suggests that the new version uses the same basic characters and set-up but plays fast and loose with the twisty details and basic temperament. The premise is ingeniously simple and relatable. What if you found out you lived next door to a monster? Charley (Anton Yelchin) resists the question at first, betraying his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in the process, but soon he comes to know the truth: his next door neighbor is indeed a vampire. Jerry is rapidly eating the population of an isolated and rather transient suburban town outside of Las Vegas. Charley, his girlfriend (Imogen Poots) and his mom (the sadly wasted but always game Toni Collette) may be next. Enter, sort of, Peter Vincent (David Tennant of Doctor Who fame) theatrical magician, vampire killer and total poseur.


Hey, that's not holy water! [MORE AFTER THE JUMP]

Frightnight-anton Though Fright Night is as quick to settle for cheap gotcha scares and 3D ickiness (bodily fluids coming at'cha!) as any modern horror movie, some of them are so well realized that the movie almost feels gourmet. The simplest and most thrilling scares, like a tense funny doorway standoff and a daring house escape that feels too easy, happen early on. The film shines when its battle of wills is fought over property lines.

The movie peaks way too early in a desert chase sequence and the ludicrous CGI vampirism takes over from there. Still, there are enough scares and laughs in the script (written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer veteran Marti Noxon) to satisfy anyone new to the property. The cast, too, is eager to please. But Anton Yelchin, as it turns out, is far more charming as a brainy geek (see most of his past work) than as a heroic leading man. That revelation becomes the whole point of his character arc but it's also an unfortunately thankless one; with Farrell and Mintz-Plasse and Tennant and the bit players hamming it up all around him, he's cornered into typical leading man coolness, and then essentially labelled unfit for it. His girlfriend, you see, liked him better in dweeb mode. (So will audiences.)

Also Opening:
Jason Momoa, formerly of Baywatch and Game of Thrones, attempts to outmuscle memories of Ahnuld in CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Drew McWeeney of HitFix warns that "it's the film equivalent of having someone punch you in the face for two straight hours while someone screams in your ear". (If that's what you're into!) Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess can't let each other go in Lone Scherfig's ONE DAY, which charts their romance over many years, Same Time Next Year style. And yes, SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, arrives to remind us that no franchise ever truly dies.

In limited release indie legend John Sayles' 17th feature AMIGO opens and Ryan Kwanten stars as a shy office worker by day and superhero by night in the comedy GRIFF THE INVISIBLE. Ryan Kwanten's comedic gifts are wildly under recognized… probably due to the body housing them. If you ask me he should've been Emmy nominated for that second season of True Blood where he got religion and then didn't know what the hell to do with it. [Tangent: Loving this season of True Blood!]. But a "shy awkward office worker"? That sounds like quite a stretch.


Speaking of True Blood news has just arrived that Joseph Manganiello (Alcides the werewolf) will join the cast of Magic Mike as "Big Dick Ritchie". That male stripper movie has been adding cast members every day lately. If you haven't been following along, Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh (of Traffic, Erin Brockovich and Oceans 11 fame) is making the all-star movie, which is based on Channing Tatum's experiences as a stripper when he was 19. Soderbergh keeps saying he's retiring and then keeps making movies. He has four more coming your way starting with Contagion and supposedly ending with that Michael Douglas as Liberace biopic. Magic Mike and then Liberace? Soderbergh is so unpredictable and prolific. And if he does actually retire he'll be missed.

Here's a gallery of the rumored cast thus far (not totally safe for work) none of whom are timid about losing their clothes.