Published August 18, 2011
Welcome to “Fright Night,” a contemporary gothic 3D thrill ride with a bite. A remake of the 1985 cult horror-comedy classic, this “Fright Night” is re-‘vamped’ for a new generation. While the original focused more on the goofy schlock horror of the time and paid homage to the Hammer Horror films of the 60s, the update guts the comedy and references from the previous flick and primarily works as a serious teen fright fest.
The nearly forgotten original “Fright Night” seems like an odd film to remake, but when separated from its source material, the update works really well. Blending a Judd Apatow-like high school setting with the deserted Las Vegas suburbs is a good mix for a horror film. The film, while often scary, maintains an innocence and respect for its audience. It’s never oppressive with its gore or cheap scares and lets the characters be the focus of the movie.
“Fright Night” borrows the same general story as the original but loses the stylized settings. Geeky high schooler Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) suspects his new next-door neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) of being a creature of the night. When his friends start disappearing and nobody believes him, Charlie and his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) turn to stage magician and famed Vegas vampire hunter Peter Vincent (David Tennant) for assistance.
Grounding the film are the two leads, Yelchin and Farrell. Farrell, even with his one-dimensional role, does an excellent job giving a horrifying twist on a James Dean-like persona. Yelchin gives a good balance between teen angst and neighborhood hero. “Doctor Who’s” David Tennant’s cross between David Blaine and Russell Brand as Peter Vincent is the most entertaining performance in the film, taking a completely opposite direction from the iconic Roddy McDowall’s Vincent Price homage in the original.
Unfortunately the rest of the talented supporting cast are unutilized. Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Role Models”) as the encyclopedic best friend Evil Ed was disappointingly truncated to little more than a few scenes and Toni Collette (“The United States of Tara”) collected a paycheck for playing Charley’s stereotypical mom.
While Tennant provides some comic relief, the film could have faired better by not taking itself as seriously. The gimmicky 3D tricks are fun for the most part, but the CGI vampire effects cheapen the scares and are no match to the makeup effects of the original. Surprisingly, Halloween came early this year and “Fright Night” is a fun film to sink your teeth in.
3 Stars Out of 5