The Fright Night of 1985 has been making people shriek and laugh for 26 years. We all know that the last few years have been pretty rough for remakes, but the new Fright Night stands on it’s own and revamps the vampire genre with suspense, humor, solid scares, and lots of winks to us fanboys and girls.
Colin Farrell plays a suave and rugged Jerry Dandridge, one that fans of the original may not quite recognize. This time around he’s a blue collar guy, a night construction worker (so he says), but he still has the uncanny ability to peak every female on the block’s interest. This includes his neighbor Jane (Toni Collette), who’s the single mother of our protagonist Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin), who originally thinks that Jerry’s just a player with plenty of game. Even Charley’s girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) can’t resist his swagger. Charley’s former friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) tries to warn him that Jerry is a vampire, but Charley thinks the kid has lost it. After 1 hour and 41 minutes of thrills, frights, and laughs, you can bet Charley’s singing a different tune.
Screen writer Marti Noxon made some updated twists and character notes that really work to breathe new life into the old 80’s script without loosing sight of it’s self-aware and slightly cheesy roots. For instance, the location in this version is set in a suburb of Las Vegas, where it’s common for people to work all hours of the night, black out their windows, and where the out-of-towners and transients can conveniently serve as all night snacks for a hungry vampire. There were even scenes that were taken directly from the original film, just slightly updated by a few key points. While most of the changes worked, there was one in particular that just wasn’t quite right. That would be the character “Ed,” a.k.a. “Evil.” The updated version of this misfit outcast was well planned, but in my opinion poorly executed. His character lacked the depth and range of emotions that the original character had, and his final transformation was fairly disappointing compared to the first time around. Mintz-Plasse did his best with the character he was given and was a great choice, but it was the character itself that was lacking.
Besides that one small blunder, the acting in Fright Night is fantastic. Ferrell puts on a spectacular performance, realizing the camp potential of the sinister but charming Jerry. You can see how much fun he’s having as he brings Jerry to “life” (pun totally intended). Farrell is smooth, ferocious, cool, and scary, all at the same time. He makes you love him and love to hate him, and his performance is one not to be missed. Anton Yelchin does a stellar job at being a status-obsessed teen while remaining likable and light-hearted. He’s really making a name for himself, and having Fright Night under his comedic belt will give him a nice little boost. David Tennant plays a wonderfully hillarious new version of Peter Vincent that will have you nearly rolling out of your seat at times. Tennant really showed off his chops in Fright Night, peaking my interest in seeing what he has coming up next.
I was utterly shocked that Fright Night was in 3D. I honestly wasn’t expecting it. At first the graphics feel pretty cheesy, but after the first gag or two, you realize that they are supposed to be that way. They are used in a more traditional sense by adding cheap thrills to the campy and enjoyable movie. It fits the tone of Fright Night perfectly, and the effects are just as self aware as the rest of the film. At one point, Farrell reaches up to snatch an arrow that’s flying straight out at the audience, and everyone was loving it. Usually we want movies to stay away from these gimmicks, but when used correctly, they can add the perfect touch to an already great flick.
Fright Night is everything you’re looking for in a horror-comedy, and it’s by far the best remake I have seen in probably 10 years. It has earned it’s spot next to the original and movies like Lost Boys in my fangirl (or is it fang-girl?)heart. If you’re looking to have a great time, laugh, and scream, then Fright Night is your huckleberry.
I give Fright Night 4 “Original Fangsters” out of 5.