Okay, full disclosure here: I’m not a huge fan of Hollywood’s tendency to re-shoot older films. I consider it to be lazy and a sure sign that the screenwriters are rapidly running out of original ideas. Therefore, when I heard nearly a year ago that another version of “Fright Night” was headed to the local multiplex, I was skeptical to say the least. The original, one of several terrific horror films released in 1985, is one of my all-time favorites…it was also one of my very first “vampire” movie experiences. Now the new “Fright Night” is here… and does it honor the original classic? In truth… yes and no.
Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) has it all… cool friends, an understanding mother (Toni Collette), and a gorgeous girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots). He also has a new next-door neighbor named Jerry (Colin Farrell), who his mother seems slightly smitten with. But when his former best friend, “Evil” Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), tells Charley that he and a recently-gone-missing friend have been spying on the mysterious new neighbor, and that Jerry is a vampire who’s responsible for a series of recent disappearances in town, Charley’s disbelief sets into motion a chain of events that could cost him everything… including his life. Now, in an attempt to save himself and those he loves, Charley must seek the help of Peter Vincent (David Tennant), a Las Vegas magician who stars in a show called “Fright Night”, a vampire-themed stage show. Peter is known as an authority on the subject of vampires…but will his knowledge of the undead be enough to save Charley and his friends from a fate worse than death?
All things considered, I enjoyed the new “Fright Night” on it’s own merits. The pace of the film is fairly swift, and there’s enough blood and splatter to keep the gorehounds out there happy. I WILL say that I miss the days when actors wore prosthetic make-up to portray monsters, and when blood wasn’t a digital effect… it gave movies a sense of realism that CG just can’t match. The cast is competent and never really unbelievable in their roles, but I DO have a slight issue with the way one of the characters is portrayed. Sadly, that character is Jerry. It’s not that Colin Farrell was poorly cast..he’s actually quite good in the role such as it is. My issue is in the way role was written. In the original film, Jerry was an extremely suave character – disarmingly so in fact. He had a charisma that thickened the air around him… a “romantic” vampire if you will (not in that cutesy, sparkly, “Twilight” sort of way). In the new film, there’s something so obviously OFF about Jerry from the get-go that it’s hard to believe that Charley isn’t instantly suspicious of him.
Over-the-top CG special effects and a bit of poor writing keep this film from reaching it’s full potential. In the end, the newly re-vamped (pun intended) “Fright Night” is a helluva lot of fun… but not as satisfying as the original classic.