jason stives sinks his teeth into the horror remake …
On paper, a remake of the 1985 horror comedy cult classic Fright Night feels completely unnecessary. While memorable to its selective audience and forgotten well enough that the idea would seem original by today’s standards, the concept of a suburban bloodsucker doesn’t bring much to vampire cinematic mythology.
With the Twilight series cornering the market on vampire folklore on a hatred level, vampires just don’t seem in. However, Craig Gillespie’s (United States Of Tara, Lars & The Real Girl) remake, starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, doesn’t look to reinvent the wheel and instead chooses to honor the original, verbatim, and indulge movie goers senses with a healthy dose of gore, humor, and cheesy genre bashing.
The setup is quite simple for those unfamiliar with the original. In a small Nevada desert community, teenager Charlie Brewster (Yelchin)is an average high school student with cool friends and a gorgeous girlfriend named Amy (Imogen Poots). Living with his single mother (Toni Collette), he is completely unaware that many of classmates and neighbors are suddenly vanishing and that it all seems to center around their new next door neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell), who isn’t quite what he seems to be.
An equation of this film would show it doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the plate, but the reason Fright Night works well lies in the cast. When the players were originally announced months ago, I believed that Gillespie had cast a solid cast and while after viewing the film I still stand by that. Sadly, not all the ingredients shine in particular the female cast members.
Since Charlie is the main carrier of this film, everyone’s involvement matters in his development over the course of the film. Charlie must conquer his fear of taking on Jerry head to head while understanding that he, like his best friend and his neighbor, are different for a reason, and it that difference defines them. It’s hard to believe that a film like this would have any underlying themes but it does and it handles it by simply not cramming it down the audience’s throats.
Farrell comes with an over-the-top quality, but not one that deters you from thinking he is the coolest person on the screen. Jerry makes it known from the start that he is dangerous by being too suspicious in such a small community. Women love him, and men question his motive, and yet even when his vampire identity is revealed, he still isn’t quite what he seems. Farrell delivers his lines very calmly and confidently, which makes it even more frightening when his animal instinct comes out and people start dropping like flies. What makes Jerry just as amusing and interesting is that he defies all expectations of vampires and debunks myth at a casual flick of the wrist. Crosses do nothing for him, and having an invitation isn’t required for him to get what he wants out of his prey.
To those who firmly believe Christopher Mintz-Plasse will forever be a high schooler in all his work, his role as the depressing Evil Ed turns the screw once more, adding another deeper dimension to what he usually is perceived to be playing. He has shown this before since he took on the guise of McLovin some four years ago and since then has taken the pathetic high school student to sympathetic lows (Role Models) to dark and selfish demeanors (Kick Ass).
Evil Ed is the continuing extension of Mintz-Plasse’s capability to tug at the right emotions of relatability but still make him a deranged movie character at the heart. We feel for him when he tells us about his disdain and hurt at Charlie ditching him as a friend in favor of being cool and likeable to those who would make fun of him for being different.
In the role of Peter Vincent, David Tennant may feel like a garish cross between Criss Angel and Russell Brand to those unfamiliar with his work. However, as a huge fan of his work on Doctor Who for five years, seeing the former Tenth Doctor flounder as a past his prime alcoholic magician with a dark past is quite whimsical and amusing. He hides greatly behind terrible puns and his rockstar appearance which ultimately hides his true cowardly self — marred with past fears and an unwillingness to fight what holds him back. He works well alongside Charlie towards the films climax but sadly is deduced to the heroic sidekick who helps set up the kill for the protagonist.
If Fright Night suffers from anything, it’s that it’s trying to find the right balance between maintaining constantly subtle humor and the jump factor of a good scare dominates the films blended tone.
If you don’t go in beaming with expectations, what you have is a fun popcorn flick to close out an exciting summer. As we let temperatures simmer and the fall movie season gets close to beginning, Fright Night is a fun way to pass the time and satisfy those undecided in whether they want to be scared or to be amused.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Highly enjoyable)