Movie Review: Fright Night (2011)

For those of you who might not remember, Fright Night is a remake of the 1985 cult classic. It is truly one of the lost horror gems of the 1980s. (See my review HERE)

The story is a mash-up of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” and Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot”. Basically teenager Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) gets discovers that his new next door neighbor (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. So to help him take out the vamp, Charlie enlists the help of super goth illusionist Peter Vincent (David Tennant).

What is great about this remake is that it works more than I could have dreamed. It has the basic story of the original but paves new ground in humor, horror and performances. The update has Charlie being less of a dweeb, his girl is more loyal, the vamp is harder to kill, Peter Vincent is off the rails and there is also some amazing writing.

The script for the remake comes from the mind of Marti Noxon, who came from the Joss Whedon school of writer’s with the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. If you think about it, that is just perfect. And her script doesn’t disappoint. I especially liked how every time you would think a scene would go one way to turns a different direction. And this time parents actually have faith in their kids!

Besides the script, you have really incredible performances from Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell. They love playing these characters and you can tell. Farrell loves camping it up but also is brilliant when he gets super mean. The original vamp Chris Sarandon from the original film was more suave, pompous and kinda like Bela Lugosi. Farrell’s vamp is raw, charismatic for sure but has more layers than the original vamp.

I think people who are embraced by this “vampire-love-story” craze might have a problem getting back to what vampires were. They don’t sparkle in the sunlight, talk about their feelings, bitch about their immortality and wanna have crazy sex. The classic vamp was a horror creation and scary as hell and I have to say it was awesome getting back to that kind of vamp!

The movie is directed by Craig Gillespie, who gave us “Lars & the Real Girl” and “Mr Woodcock”. He’s not exactly the pedigree to make this movie but his kind of humor and Noxon’s script really blend well together. Gillespie does some things in this movie that I have never seen done in a vampire film. Like how Farrell’s vamp gets past the whole “having to be invited in a house” gimmick is pure genius. Then there is also that harrowing escape scene on the road to Vegas, again brilliant!

When I heard they were going to remake this movie I cringed. How are you going to make Peter Vincent, a late night horror film marathon host relevant. But David Tennant’s Peter Vincent is a scene-stealer in every scene he is in.  Plus setting the remake in Vegas and making him a goth version of Siegfried and Roy was something I couldn’t have imagined. It was just masterful!

My only problem with the movie was it did feel a little top heavy but that could have also been from the fact I was a fan of the original and you want it to get going. The movie’s three opening scenes I would have dropped one. One just didn’t seem necessary at all.

God I hope Fright Night finds the audience it deserves and out does the original. Because like the movie that inspired it, this movie could be the horror gem of 2011.

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer

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