It took over twenty-years, but this generation of horror fans finally have a cult product that they can call their own. Even though it comes in the form of a respectful remake.
Fright Night, the 105 minute remake of the 1985 classic, is pitch-perfect in so many ways. And that’s coming from someone who has seen his childhood violated twice this summer (Transformers: Dark of the Moon & The Smurfs). Thankfully, things didn’t come in threes as they say, for this is one of those rare times where a film from yester-year can actually benefit from movie-magic upgrades as long as the filmmakers are honorable to the theme of the original.
Set in a developing Las Vegas suburb – which is to say, a handful of homes in the desert – Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a high school senior who lives with his milf-of-a-mother Jane (Toni Collette). Just like the original, daddy is not in the picture. Charley was once a dweeb with no shame until he started dating Amy (Imogen Poots – rough name) leading him to become neglectful of his fellow geek brethren. Specifically, his long-time best friend Evil (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
Evil attempts to reach out to Charley when several of his classmates have gone missing. Charley is showing very little interest though, until Evil spastically tells him that a vampire is the source of the problem. A vampire, who just happens to be Charley’s next door neighbor, Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell). Charley eventually dismisses his former best friend’s theories and ends up meeting Jerry while the guy is flirting with his mom. He doesn’t make any assumptions, until he starts to pick-up on some quirks Jerry begins to show around him at night, based on what he knows from vampire lore.
Sensing that Charley may be on to him, Jerry decides to have a bit of fun with his prey and begins to torment Charley, and his friends, in order to keep his deadly secret. Without anyone to turn to, the only chance he has to is to seek out a famous magician in Peter Vincent (David Tennant looking like Criss Angel and Russell Brand had a baby), who apparently is the go-to guy on the legend of vampires.
If you’ve seen the original, the remake is mindful of the storytelling pattern and tone set forth. Now remember, this is a movie review and not a movie compare; so of course the special effects are wielded a bit more and the story does place the characters in a few different scenarios. These liberties taken are all vast improvements though (well, some of the CGI blood looks silly); especially the car chase sequence out on a desert highway that ushers in a killer cameo.
Now if this is one’s first introduction to Fright Night, this is a horror picture that is both campy & serious at the same time (not as dumb as Jennifer‘s Body though). For once, this tends to stay on the more serious side but it does institute a nodding homage to the original’s cheesiness. Naturally, there are the horror movie telegraphs and convenient storytelling moments (ex. Peter Vincent’s sudden change-of-heart) to make this sucker (no pun) hum along. That said, the only real complaint is how terrible the shots at night came across in 3D. The action of the camera is just fine, yet the gray coloring blends everything together. One would have to assume they were going for a realistic version of what night would look like in the desert. Nice thought…but it looked like crap in a few sequences. All things considered though, the 3D wasn’t too bad when blood splattered and vampires smoldered.
Standing ovation for Colin Farrell by the way! He is one of the coolest vampires to grace the screen in this atmosphere since Stephen Dorff in Blade. And speaking of vampire flicks, Fright Night 2011 should be this generations’ Lost Boys. It’s fun, tense and the cast plays it straight while the script timely injects comedic lines when appropriate, as it never digs into the established tone. In other words, the thrilling elements coexist nicely with the playful ones.
Overall, Fright Night is a killer vampire flick and an all-around loyal horror movie. Based on the theme of the original – along with the current filmmakers and performers knowing what kind of product they’re creating – it doesn’t try to outdo the source material, but it does sharpen the original’s fangs.
RATING: 4 out of 5