“Fright Night” (2011) is a remake of the 1985 film of the same name. I admit that I wanted to be cynical about the newer film, but I cannot be. The remake is not bad.
Charley Brewster, portrayed by Anton Yelchin, is a senior in high school. He lives with his mom (Toni Collette) in a suburban Las Vegas neighborhood. Charley begins to get suspicious of their new neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell). The neighbor seems nice enough at first but has some strange habits–namely, that he’s a blood sucking vampire. Charley becomes convinced that Jerry is out to get his mom, his girlfriend (Imogen Poots) and the entire neighborhood. So he reaches out to a local “fright night” horror TV host, Peter Vincent (played by David Tennant.) Vincent thinks Charley is crazy, so Charley decides he must stop the monster on his own before it’s too late.
The 1985 version of “Fright Night” looks very dated when you watch it now, with its retro hair styles and sensibilities. The new film sticks to the same basic story, but updates the performances and the special effects. Each film contains about equal the number of thrills. The older version just a bit campier, due in large part to a fun performance by Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent. The 2011 “Fright Night” does contain a very nicely done car chase scene that the first film doesn’t have. In the scene, our neighbor vampire chases the family on a highway out into the desert. The camera work here reminded me of the stellar move-around-the-car-while-it’s-speeding camera work when Tom Cruise and his family were driving along the highway in Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds.” Though, admittedly, Spielberg’s film is much better than “Fright Night.” There’s also a nice cameo in this scene from the 1985 film’s vampire actor, Chris Sarandon.
Farrell’s vampire is formidable, smoldering and, well, more masculine than Sarandon’s Jerry. Farrell seems a little less refined and worldly, perhaps a tad more truck-driver-like. No complaints from me on that. Generally speaking, all of the acting in the 2011 film is good for the lightweight material, including a supporting performance by Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Charley’s friend Ed. To be honest, though, I sort of missed McDowall as Peter Vincent.
“Fright Night” is directed by Craig Gillespie who previously directed “Lars and the Real Girl” and episodes of the television series “United States of Tara.” The screenplay was written by Marti Noxon, based on the original story and film written and directed by Tom Holland (“Child’s Play” and “Thinner”).
One criticism that I have for “Fright Night” is its darkness. I don’t know if it was intentional (since vampires move around only at night) or if it was because of the 3D. Either way, it was at times too dark to clearly see the action on the screen. That said, “Fright Night” is generally an enjoyable, fun film.
Rating 2.5 out of 4 stars
2011, Rated R, 106 minutes, Horror, Comedy