In a world of bedazzled bloodsuckers, brooding their eyes out and boring the shit out of me, it’s always nice to get good R-rated vampire flick. And while we didn’t need a remake of 1985’s Fright Night, I enjoyed it just the same.
Director Craig Gillespie’s feature film resume is an odd assortment. He debuted with Lars and the Real Girl, followed with Mr. Woodcock, and now he gives us this remake of one of my favorite vampire movies. Fright Night seems like a bit of a departure from Gillespie’s quirky debut, but he has no trouble getting some great performances out of his cast. Granted, when your cast includes David Tennant and Colin Farrell, they’re probably already bringing their A-game.
Fright Night follows Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin), a high school senior who seems to have it made. The popular kids have accepted him. He’s got an awesome girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots), and a cool mom, Jane (Toni Colette). All is right in the world, until his ex-best friend, “Evil” Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), tries to convince him that his new neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell), is a vampire.
Charlie thinks Ed is still caught up in the rich fantasy life they shared as kids. But when Ed goes missing and Charlie witnesses some of Jerry’s mysterious behavior first-hand, he begins to think Ed was right. Following in Ed’s footsteps, Charlie seeks help from Peter Vincent (David Tennant), a famed Chris Angel-like magician and supposed vampire expert. Can Charlie and Peter save Amy and Jane from becoming villainous vampire Jerry’s next victims?
Screenwriter Marti Noxon adds some interesting elements to Tom Holland’s original story, setting the story in Las Vegas, making Peter Vincent a magician instead of a movie star, making Jerry a “tribal” vampire. The remake is also much quicker than the original. We hit the ground running and the next thing you know the end credits are rolling.
But, what really sells Fright Night is its cast, specifically David Tennant. He steals the show. He’s just so much fun with his hilarious rock star persona, even more over the top than Roddy McDowall’s foppish failed actor from the original.
Colin Farrell plays an excellent vampire, as if he were born to play a predator. His Jerry is much more primal than Chris Sarandon’s Reaganite yuppie vampire in the original Fright Night. Farrell is a million times more menacing. And I like Anton Yelchin in general. Here he brings surprising depth to the affable everyman who rises to the challenge of taking on a vampire.
The film has its faults. The effects are good, some nice gore and interesting looking vampires, but some moments are so blatantly beholden to the 3D that it kinda ruins it. And as quickly as time flies in the film, I would’ve liked to see even more Peter Vincent. Still, Fright Night is a good time at the movies for fans of the original and the uninitiated alike.