While it doesn’t have the charm of the 1985 original, the remake of Fright Night is a CGI-slick horror romp that provides some laughs and even a few scares thanks to a menacing Colin Farrell.
Directed by Craig Gillespie with writing chores handled by Marti Noxon (based on the original story written by Tom Holland), the film stars Anton Yelchin, Farrell, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco, Reid Ewing, Will Denton, Sandra Vergara, and Emily Montague. It also features a great cameo by Fright Night's original vampire Chris Sarandon.
Moving the setting to Las Vegas, the remake follows the basic plot of the original with awkward high school teenager Charlie Brewster (Yelchin) starting to settle into a good life with the school’s hottest girl Amy (Poots). His single mother Jane (Collette) works hard as a real estate agent and he is working hard to fit into his girlfriend’s new social circle of the popular school kids.
Unfortunately, Charlie’s new social standing also means distancing himself from his nerdy childhood friend Ed (Mintz-Plasse) – who isn’t willing to go away quietly. It appears Ed has a theory on why so many kids are not showing up for school and it involves Charlie’s new neighbor Jerry (Farrell).
Although it is the worst vampire name ever, Ed is convinced Jerry is a bloodsucker and blackmails Charlie into helping him discover the truth. Charlie doesn’t want to believe it at first, but Ed’s evidence is more than enough to win him over – not to mention the fact that Ed disappears after a run-in with Jerry.
Charlie isn’t quite sure what to do with this information so he looks up magician and vampire hunter Peter Vincent (Tennant, in a role that seems to spoof all the Vegas magicians such as Chris Angel). Since Vincent turns out to be more show than real, Charlie is forced to deal with Jerry on his own after the vampire attacks his house, mother, and girlfriend.
Before too long, Vincent discovers that Charlie was right about Jerry, and the two head off to face Jerry and save Amy.
The original Fright Night featured a Charlie that was obsessed with the classic horror films of the 50s and 60s and a Peter Vincent that seemed patterned more after Peter Cushing (of the Hammer Film vampire movies). It also featured a great performance from the legendary Roddy McDowall as Vincent – who was able to bring laughs to the role without trying too hard.
Although he has been changed to fit a more modern feel, Yelchin does a great job in the role of Charlie and is able to make the character believable.
The fact that he is with someone as hot as Poots just adds to the laughs since Charlie doesn’t seem quite sure how he got her himself. As the movie gets going, Yelchin settles into the role of hero and does a nice job squaring off against a cocky Farrell.
Farrell makes the movie worth watching. The actor seems to be having a blast playing a creature so evil, and even manages to be better than Sarandon in the original. Sarandon was a good vampire, but he never seemed as dangerous as Farrell does in the remake.
Said in the movie, Farrell’s vampire is the shark from Jaws and isn’t contempt to live in quiet hiding like Sarandon seemed to be in the original. He doesn’t go after Charlie’s girl as some past life connection, but as a middle finger to Charlie.
Although I enjoyed the movie as much as the original, it weakness (or at least a weakness for me) has to be in the way Tennant plays Vincent. I understand the reason for playing the character as an obnoxious snob and phony, but his performance is so annoying you are hoping Jerry will eat the guy so we can be rid of him.
The film also suffers a tad from bad CGI when Jerry vamps out. It doesn’t kill the movie, but looks a little too fake to be scary. Luckily, the filmmakers save Jerry’s big vamping jaws for a couple of scenes and let Farrell’s natural acting ability provide more scares for the character.
The Blu-ray looks solid (I had heard the 3D effects made the movie a tad too dark at times, but I didn’t notice it), and comes with decent special features including an extended look at "Squid Man", a music video, bloopers, deleted and extended scenes, a look at how to make a funny vampire movie and one on Peter Vincent.
While I still prefer the original Fright Night thanks to its old school horror feel and look, the remake is an entertaining blend of horror and comedy (you will crack up when Ed returns to face Charlie). Most of the film’s success rest on the shoulders of Farrell who plays his vampire as something from the darkest horror film and not a character named Jerry.
If you like your horror mixed with a little light comedy, this film won’t disappoint, but I still recommend giving the original another watch. It holds up surprisingly well.
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Fright Night is getting in the holiday spirit with these funny Christmas cards: