Director – Craig Gillespie
Cast – Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco, Reid Ewing, Will Denton, Sandra Vergara, Sandra Vergara, Emily Montague, Chris Sarandon
Release year – 2011
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I admit that I was not very stoked when I first heard word of a Fright Night remake, mostly because I saw it as another needless remake of a horror classic and Hollywood has been butchering vampire films in recent years. When I heard that Colin Farrell was going to portray Charlie Brewster’s vampire neighbor my interest was peaked, and I figured “what the hell?” and decided to pay the substantial 3-D price for this ticket in hopes of seeing something worthwhile, and for the most part it was. I will say this now though, this Fright Night remake is a fairly good film on its own and gives us a fun experience, but fans of the original will have a hard time liking this if you compare the two.
Adam Yelchin stars as Charlie Brewster, a former dweeb geek who has acquired an insanely hot girlfriend and is having the time of his life while running away from his dorky past. When Jerry(Colin Farrell) moves in next door to Charlie he fails to listen to the warnings from his former best friend “Evil” Ed Lee(Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and soon learns that his neighbor is a vehement vampire picking off the townsfolk every night, forcing him to reach out to famed vampire-killer and TV personality Peter Vincent(David Tennant) to rid their desert town of this seductive and blood-thirsty beast.
For starters, let me say that there will be several spoilers mentioned in this review, which should come as no shock to those who have seen the original. And to those of you who haven’t, watch it first.
The overall storyline follows the original for the most part, but does stray at times and makes this a film of its own and not a direct copy like some other remakes we have been given over the last few years. Writer Marti Noxon(I Am Number Four)’s screenplay came with mostly-positive usage of the characters involved, but I did find fault with one of the most important characters in the film, “Evil” Ed Lee. He played a very prominent role in the original film, and to include him in this film would require an equally important role right? Well Noxon completely screwed that up by having him “turned” very early into the film, and leaving him out completely until the third act. To waste his character so soon was a terrible move by Noxon and was sadly not the only bad move made regarding characters. The usage of Peter Vincent could have been better, especially regarding the stupid idea to delve into his past and the reasoning for his hatred of vampires, but Noxon at least made him quite funny and that helped relieve my distaste. As far as the other main characters, Charlie, Jerry the vampire, Charlie’s mom Jane, and his girlfriend Amy were all used very well and provided much to the film, and in some ways provided more than the characters in the original did, which was the case with Jane and Amy. Now, despite the sometimes poor usage of characters Noxon did manage to keep me fully engaged in the story throughout its 106 minute runtime, and that came as a result of her keeping things interesting and throwing in some high-intensity scenes that came in a drawn out fashion that resulted in good tension. I admit that at times I felt like the film was much longer than it really was, but that does not necessarily mean that the film dragged, just that there was a lot going on in this piece for its runtime. The story takes us to numerous locations and gives us plenty of action scenes involving Jerry’s brutalization of the townsfolk and our protagonists fighting back against him, keeping the fun elements constantly developing and making for the most of my enjoyment of this story.
Director Craig Gillespie(Lars and the Real Girl) did a fairly good job executing this piece, giving us good tension on the scenes that called for it and delivering some fun horror as well. His tone is definitely one that was much more serious than the cheesy tone we got in the original Fright Night, which I did not prefer but also did not mind because it allowed this remake to be a film of its own in a sense. His camerawork was great and he used it to full potential during the film’s numerous action and suspense sequences, which never resulted in any real “scares” but did bring the tension to high levels that I enjoyed. Despite the great execution of the most important elements, the suspense and the horror, Gillespie got fantastic performances from all of our lead actors, which was another high selling point that helped this film achieve its positive rating. Colin Ferrel was great as Jerry and managed to provide his own seductive mannerisms that were different from what Chris Sarandon provided in the original in that Ferrel was a much more manly and blue collar type, and he also made for a good vampire as well during his kill sequences. Anton Yelchin was also great as Charley Brewster, and it was cool to see Christopher Mintz-Plasse portray a mostly-serious character, although he still came off as Fogel from Superbad, just a pissed off Fogel this time. I have heard many remarks about this film being less comical and gorier than the original, and while I agree with it being less comical there really was not THAT much gore in this piece. The gore that we do get was CGI due to this being filmed in 3D format, and I must say that despite my overall dislike for 3D the vampire deaths scenes were very awesome and made full use of the 3D capability – potential reached.
Overall, this Fright Night remake is a fairly good film on its own that feels like it lacks heart at times, but gives us good suspense, great performances, and positive usage of the 3D technology used. When compared to the first there are many obvious differences in the look and feel, and while this film stands on its own as a positive experience I have a good feeling that fans of the original will not enjoy this very much, at least if they cannot help but compare the two.