Runtime: 1 HR, 46 MIN
Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Imogen Poots, David Tennant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Toni Collette
So now that I’ve pretty much said that almost all horror remakes suck (vampire pun somewhat intended) how does Fright Night hold up?
Pretty well all things considered; it certainly could have been a lot worse. I’ve talked with a few co-workers about the movie and they had no idea that it was even a remake which I find a little sad but not entirely surprising considering the unintentionally shitty taste in movies most people have. Fright Night isn’t a household name anymore like it was in the 1980′s or even the 90′s, though the film does have a decent cult following which obviously hasn’t reached my rather generic, white bread co-workers. The film was even popular enough to spawn a sequel that flopped rather terribly and hasn’t seen any kind of decent release on disc as of the time of this writing.
The remake remains very close to the original story of a teenage boy named Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) that learns his new next door neighbor is a vampire. Charley lives with his Mother (Toni Collette), a single mom that wouldn’t mind finding herself a man but seems relatively cool by mom standards. Our soon-to-be-hero also has a girlfriend named Amy that’s just a little out of his league and they both seem to know it. Charley is a little paranoid and is waiting for the other shoe to drop and get dumped but Amy seems happy in the relationship and Charley is happy to try and keep the status quo. Much to Charley’s chagrin his extremely dorky friend McLovin errr… I mean Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is convinced that all the mysterious disappearances in the area are related to Charley’s new neighbor who he thinks is a vampire. Saying Ed is a bit a dork is understatement and Charley is afraid that associating with him will jeopardize his relationship with Amy and quickly dismisses Ed’s claims as bullshit and tells him to fuck off. As it turns out, Charley’s neighbor is a vampire, a vampire named Jerry, who is deliciously portrayed by Colin Farrell. Jerry makes his intentions quite clear to Charley what he intends to do him, his Mommy, and his “ripe” girl Amy (ripe was his term, not mine, by the way). Desperate for help Charley visits Peter Vincent, a Las Vegas stage act that specializes in the occult. He’s kind of an English Chris Angel but with a bit of drinking problem plus he’s a bit of a pussy. With some of Peter’s assistance, Charley & company prepare to go up against Jerry and send his vampire ass back to… wherever vampires go.
Anton Yelchin plays Charley as a nervous, fish out water teen who’s desperate to hang onto the unexpected level of popularity he’s currently enjoying by dating the popular girl in school, Amy. I thought he was very decent but I think his performance gets lost in the shuffle a bit. Imogen Poots plays Amy, who is Charley’s hot and popular girlfriend. I thought I recognized her but it wasn’t until I got home and looked her up that I figured out where I knew her from, 2007′s 28 Weeks Later where she played Robert Caryle’s daughter. She’s pulls off a decent American accent and more surprisingly she believably acts like the popular girl that would date one of the high school losers (that never happens in real life by the way). Charley’s former best friend Ed is played by the increasingly annoying Christopher Mintz-Plasse. It’s amazing that in four short years his shtick has stayed the exact same but has gone from cute to grating. I guess if studios are still offering you money to play the same role in film after film you might as while take it before they figure out that it’s no longer cute. His portrayal of “Evil” Ed is by far the film’s weakest performance but thankfully his role is significantly smaller than it was in the original.
One of the remakes bigger changes concerns the character of Peter Vincent who was originally played by Roddy McDowell. In the original film, Peter Vincent is a former actor who is now hosting a late night horror show at a local TV station who’s popularity is on a steep decline. In the 2011 version Peter Vincent is played by former Dr. Who Doctor, David Tennant. He’s a Las Vegas stage act that’s surrounded by beautiful, scantily clad women but is one step away from being a complete fraud. David Tennant does a great job putting a modern spin on the character and I’m glad they updated the role because I don’t think teens today would understand the concept of a late night TV movie host since that hasn’t been popular in a number of years. As I just mentioned, David Tennant is best known around the world as the previous Doctor on the BBC’s Dr. Who. I’m not a Dr. Who fan but I can definitely see his appeal because he’s an absolute blast, stealing almost every scene he’s in except for those with Colin Farrell where it’s a wash. Dropping Colin Farrell’s name in the previous sentence was my not too subtle way to segway into his performance. I used to think Colin Farrell was one of Hollywood’s biggest douchebags but after some really good performances in A New World, Miami Vice, and especially In Bruges he’s really redeemed himself and is doing some of his best work. In the here and now he’s absolutely fabulous as the centuries old vampire with the amazingly ordinary name… Jerry. I’d like to think that he’s playing a douchebag vampire caricature of himself that’s super hungry for both blood and pussy. Both Farrell and Tennant chew up every scene their in and often dominate the other castmates. I have to admit that their performances are probably two of my favorites not only of the summer but for 2011 as well. One last thing before we move on; keep an eye out for the original Jerry, he’s not hard to find but I know how you kids and your drugs miss shit like that.
I do have a few gripes about film aside from Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s return to the McLovin role which I hope he one day abandons. This is going to sound petty but there should a rule against allowing R rated vampire movies to be released without at least one instance of tits being unleashed for the audience. Like I said I know it’s petty but if you’re going to go out and make a relatively bloody film with a good amount of bad language why not give your core audience a little something extra for coming all the way to the theater to see your film in 3D? Speaking of 3D, Fright Night is another film that exemplifies a lot the shitty traits that I dislike… scratch that… hate about 3D. Subtlety is not one of Fright Nights strong suits. On more than one occasion there are some extremely gimmicky effects that take full advantage of the 3D technology. Unfortunately, most of the effects look cheesy as fuck and made me painfully aware of how poorly implemented those effects were. Maybe I’m being a little to rough on 3D effects in general, perhaps my expectations aren’t inline with what most movie audiences are wanting because I believe 3D should be applied with a scalpel not a broadsword. I’m sure there was a lot studio pressure to fill Fright Night with a lot 3D effects to justify filming it with 3D cameras and that equals lots of gimmicky bullshit.
For the most part I really enjoyed Fright Night, I found it to be a worthy re-imagining of the original and I think most newcomers and fans of the original film will have a good time. Most of the performances range from decent to outstanding, the action & humor hit most of the right marks, and in the end the film is just plain fun. I can’t recommend seeing it in 3D because the effects (just the 3D ones) are just plain shitty and they rob the film of some of it’s better qualities. Fright Night isn’t going to reinvent the wheel but if you’re looking for some end of summer fun than you could certainly do a lot worse than this.
For those that are interested you can watch the original Fright Night on Amazon VOD or on VUDU
on your computer or your internet capable device such as certain Blu-ray player’s, HDTV’s, Roku player, etc.