The term “remake” has become synonymous with negative feelings and a general groan, but it is usually in regards to beloved source material and has no reflection on the cast or movie itself.
What if you could take an outdated film that is regarded as a cult classic and bring it back to the attention of the youth of America in an attempt to inspire a new generation to hold it in high regards. That is what writer Marti Nixon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “I Am Number Four”) and director Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”) hope to do with the reinvention of “Fright Night” into a modern day 3D horror classic.
Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a typical teenager living in Las Vegas with his mother Jane (Toni Collette). He is an ex-nerd who has transitioned into the “in crowd” and now has a smoking hot girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots). Since going through this social and physical transformation, his lifetime friend “Evil” Ed Thompson (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is no longer in his inner circle. When Charley is approached by Ed and told that another long-time friend is missing, he is blackmailed into going to his house to check up on him. Ed then tells Charley that his new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is actually a vampire and that all of the kids that have stopped showing up for class are actually his victims. Dismissing all of it as some sort of nerd overload, Charley tells Ed that they are no longer friends, so when Ed goes missing, Charley’s guilt and instinct tell him something really wrong is happening.
Charley then starts to watch Jerry and becomes obsessed with finding the truth; he even breaks into Jerry’s house and witnesses Jerry feeding on a neighbor. Now armed with the truth that he can’t tell anyone for fear of being considered insane, he does everything he can to protect those around him. Jerry is aware his secret is out and he sets his predatory gaze onto Charley, his girlfriend and his mother. Charley goes to local star and magician Peter Vincent (David Tennant), who claims to be a master of knowledge when it comes to the occult and supernatural. When Peter turns out to be less of a vampire killer and more of a librarian, Charley realizes that he must find a way to kill Jerry and save those that he loves himself.
I had not seen the original “Fright Night” until I heard about this remake and it was exactly what I expected, a fun, campy cheese-fest of gore that I tend to associate with horror films of that era.
I was excited to see that many actors I love were cast in “Fright Night.” Toni Collette has a small role in the film, but her performance in the recently canceled “United States of Tara” is mind-blowing and revolutionary, Colin Farrell has had exceptional roles in films like “In Bruges” and “Pride and Glory.” Farrell is suave, and seductive in the role, while being blatantly creepy and evil at the same time — which can be a tough thing to do. I have been a fan of Anton Yelchin since “Charlie Bartlett” and he has really made a name for himself in Hollywood in recent blockbuster films “Star Trek” and “Terminator Salvation.” Anton plays the reserved teen who has a courageous heart underneath very well and is completely relatable in the role.
The supporting players in this malicious game of cat and mouse are Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Imogen Poots and David Tennant. While Imogen Poots has the larger role of these three, she is more of an enticement to the male viewers and a bargaining chip used by Jerry to threaten Charley more than anything else. Mintz-Plasse — who is most well known as “McLovin” from “Superbad” and most recently had a role in “Kick-Ass” — plays his usual dorky and foul-mouthed character, but with a small twist. Lastly, there is David Tennant, who has a massive following for his starring role on “Doctor Who” from 2005-10 in which he portrayed the “doctor” whose wacky and crazy adventures took him through time and space. I really love how his character looks like a Criss Angel rip-off in a show on the Las Vegas strip, but as soon as the lights turn off he is a completely different person. I found his role endearing and funny and it is later revealed that there is a strange connection to his fascination with Vampire lore and his past.
This remake succeeds in the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and also because it is knowingly more contemporary with its story, location and the humor. It was made to appeal to the audience of today and even though there are minor changes to the storyline, it gets across the same message as before. The 3D was a fun addition and I will say that while seeing it in 3D does add another depth of thrills, it would be just as enjoyable in 2D. Director Craig Gillespie has taken the camp out of the movie while playing with homages and tributes to the original. They even have Chris Sarandon in a cameo role in the film (Sarandon, of course, played the vampire Jerry in the 1985 version). It is small touches like those, that when noticed brings another level of enjoyment to a film like this.
So needless to say this film is one of those fun summer films that has action, thrills and a few minor scares in it that make it a good movie to take your friends or girlfriend to, and since it doesn’t take itself too seriously you don’t have to either, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
I will end this review with the writer Marti Noxon said at the “Fright Night” panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con “With so much vampires out there right now, I wanted to write about a vampire that didn’t play the piano. I wanted to write about a vampire who has a viciousness and sexuality that I believe Colin Farrell imbues.”
“Fright Night” is rated R for: language, bloody-horror violence and sexual references. It is in theaters now.
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