Writers: Marti Noxon, Tom Holland
SYNOPSIS: After schoolmates start disappearing, a high school senior starts to suspect that his next door neighbor is a vampire.
REVIEW: Craig Gillespie, director of Mr. Woodcock, Lars and the Real Girl, and several episodes of the HBO series United States of Tara, puts a stake in the ground with a remake of the 1985 vampire semi-classic Fright Night. With a screenplay from Marti Noxon, whose pedigree includes episodes from the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, as well as the sci-fi actioner I am Number Four, and Tom Holland, writer of the original Fright Night and Psycho II, this version with Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell has all the earmarks to be a great remake. Since remaking a horror film is all the rage and relatively successful - just look at the upcoming Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Let Me In, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - this year's Fright Night, with its added 3D thrown in should pass the acid (or Holy Water) test.
Anton Yelchin, from the Star Trek reboot and Alpha Dog, returns to the screen as Charley Brewster, the role that William Ragsdale played in the original. Taking on the Chris Sarandon role of Jerry is the always volatile and fun to watch Colin Farrell. The late night B-movie host Peter Vincent (what a perfect name) that Roddy McDowall played so well and with great aploumb in the original is now a Las Vegas magician in the hands of the good Doctor Who David Tennant. Rounding out the cast are Toni Collette as Charley's mom, Jane, Imogen Poots as Amy, and Chistopher Mintz-Plasse as Charley's former best friend Ed.
Moved to the desert communities outside of Las Vegas, Fright Night (2011) is geographically perfect for the modern day vampire tale. With a transient, more nomadic suburban community - where families move in and move away on a fairly consistent basis - and a society where people are as likely to be working and living at night as they are the day, where better can a vampire named Jerry hunt, seduce, and feed on the living without people raising an eyebrow or nosing about. High school senior Charley Brewster lives next door to Jerry, all the while oblivious to his neighbor's lifestyle. When former best friend Ed tries to confirm with Charley that the disappearances of friends and their families is the result of the vampire, Charley begrudgedly plays along until he can not deal with Ed's outrageous ramblings any longer. But when Ed turns up missing the next day, Charley finds proof in Ed's room that Jerry is exactly the fanged bloodsucker that Ed claimed him to be. Fearful for his mom Jane and girlfriend Amy, Charley hunts down and is granted an audience with Las Vegas Strip magician Peter Vincent, whose reputation is anchored in the occult and supernatural. Armed with information and a stake, Charley takes it on himself to confront and battle his bad neighbor to save the lives of the people he holds dear.
Derived and modernized from the 1985 original, Fright Night mirrors our 21st century lives. Gone are the schlocky, late-night B-movie creature features with aging ghoulish hosts. We are too desensitized for that nonsense. Instead, we are faced with a recessionary economy with foreclosures and 'For Sale' signs more prevalent than ever. Noxon and Holland build a brand new future vampire classic with the roots of the original, the slackerism of Disturbia, and the uncertainty of the world we live in.
Anton Yelchin, so good in almost any role he touches, exudes the modern average teenager. Just trying to get along without incident and with a glimpse of hope that popularity will propel Charley along to the next phase of his life, Yelchin's thin frame, lack of tan, and morose eyes tells a tale of it own if a teenager unsure of whether the Sun will come up tomorrow. Colin Farell's casting offers his vampire Jerry to be more primal and predatorial than Chris Sarandon's original, using his good looks, fit physique, brooding eyes and vampire skills to woe and wound. Farell's body language as Jerry as he hopes to be invited in to Charley's kitchen is as mesmerizing as a cobra flitting to the music of a flute. Toni Collette, who has worked with director Gillespie on Tara in the past, is as versatile and solid an actress as always. Chistopher Mintz-Plasse final scene, starring in a duel role of sorts, was reminenscent of Paul Reuben's final scene as Amilyn in the theatrical release of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Fright Night (2011) is funny, nerve-racking, slick, well-crafted, respectful of the original where it needed to be and reworked where changes were demaned and would work best. The 3D effects are used sparingly, using classic 3D horror gags throughout and offering up some great new CGI 3D blood and smouldering ash to throw at the audience. The story works and the acting is superb. If you are a fan of the overly popular vampire genre, or a fan of the original, give this bloodsucker a chance. What do you have to lose?
WORTH: Matinee or DVD