“Fright Night strikes just the right balance between horror and comedy, which I think even fans of the original film will appreciate.”
Horror and Comedy
Starring – Anton Yelchin/Charley Brewster, Colin Farrell/Jerry Danridge, Toni Collette/Jane Brewster, David Tennant/Peter Vincent, Imogen Poots/Amy and Christopher Mintz-Plasse/”Evil” Ed Thompson
Director – Craig Gillespie Writer- Marti Noxon
Rated R – for bloody horror violence and language
1 hr, 46 min.
There have been a slew of genre movie remakes in the past ten years and more often than not, the original is superior to the remake. The few exceptions that spring to mind are: Death Race (2008), the Paul W. S. Anderson remake of the 1975 Death Race 2000 and Dawn of the Dead (2004) directed by Zach Snyder which is a remake of the 1978 Romero classic of the same name. Now another film can be added to this rare list of respectful remakes: Fright Night (2011).
While I enjoyed the 1985 film at the time, more recent rewatchings have not been as much fun; although I must admit I still like Roddy McDowall’s portrayal of Peter Vincent as a horror host. Because I’m not an uber-fan of the original, it probably allowed me to be more open to enjoying the remake.
The 2011 Fright Night follows the same basic plot of the original, with a few minor character, plot and mythology changes. One of the major changes from the original film is that Charley’s friend Ed is the one who discovers that Charley’s neighbor is a vampire and not Charley himself. The other slightly less important change is that Peter Vincent in the remake is a Los Vegas magician and not a TV horror host as in the original. I didn’t think either of these changes affected the overall tone of the film, which is still like the original a blend of horror and comedy.
Charley Brewster is a reformed nerd, who now has a girlfriend and has begun hanging out with the cool kids in High School. Charley’s former nerdy friend “Evil” Ed Lee tells Charley that their old friend has gone missing and they check in on the his house only to find it abandoned. Ed tries to convince Charley that his next-door neighbor Jerry is a vampire and that he is the one responsible for the recent rash of disappearing students. Charley is convinced only that Ed is delusional and is just desperately trying to get his attention.
Ed continues his surveillance of Jerry, until Jerry catches Ed and seemingly kills him. Charley now notices Ed missing and eventually begins to believe that Ed may have been right about Jerry being a vampire. Charley sneaks into Jerry’s house, where he finds that Jerry is storing victims in rooms hidden upstairs to feed on. After narrowly escaping Jerry’s house, Charley goes to Ed’s house to look for Ed’s research on vampires. It is there that Charley sees Peter Vincent’s web site on Ed’s computer, which claims that Vincent is an expert vampire hunter. Charley goes to Vegas and attempts to gain the aid of the flamboyant magician, but Vincent pretends not to believe Charley’s story and sends him on his way.
Charley attempts to barricade his home from Jerry the vampire, but Jerry attacks Charley, his girlfriend Amy and his mother Jane in his home, which they flee from in their mother’s car. Jerry chases after them and they survive, but Jane is injured in the fight. Charley once again pleads with Vincent for help and this time Vincent joins Charley to hunt down the vampire and stake him.
There is a lot to like about Fright Night. The direction by Craig Gillespie, who previously directed Lars and the Real Girl (2007) and Mr. Woodcock (2007), shows off a real talent for comedic pacing those other films did not. There are some scenes that stretch out to create tension and then speed up for the inevitable violent confrontation, which are then punctuated by well-timed humor. Some of this clever plotting and humor should be attributed to screenplay writer Marti Noxon, who wrote dozens of scripts for the similarly themed Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV program.
Anton Yelchin, who plays the teenage Charley and is best known to genre fans for playing Chekov in the 2009 Star Trek film, does a fine job playing a former nerd and growing teen, trying to fit into his new social situation. Colin Farrell plays the part of the vampire Jerry with a quite cool air in his human form. But as a vampire, his vicious and malicious ferocity is truly frightening. I also liked Toni Collette as Charley’s understanding Mother Jane and Imogen Poots as Charley’s sweet and strong girlfriend Amy. The standout performance for genre fans is David Tennant, who is best known for playing the Doctor on Doctor Who for three-plus seasons. Tennant as Peter Vincent the Goth Vegas magician is fantastic; playing both the drama-queen stage magician and the slightly cowardly vampire hunter!
Fright Night strikes just the right balance between horror and comedy, which I think even fans of the original film will apreaciate. While this version of Fright Night is definitely more adult in its language and levels of violence than its predecessor, I never felt that any of it was gratuitous or unnecessary. If you’d like a break from the dark and dismal horror films of late, you should give Fright Night a try.
TECHNICAL: Acting – 9 Directing – 9 Cinematography – 8 Script – 10 Special effects – 9
VISCERAL: Visual – 9 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 7 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 9
TOTAL RATING: 88