Fright Night (2011)

Remakes: impossible to avoid, unwanted by those who adore the original and often seen as a pointless cash-in on someone else’s legacy. Fright Night is a remake, and although it cannot possibly match the kitsch, gleeful stupidity of the original, it is it’s own film: modern, fun, sharp, sleek and thoroughly enjoyable. My hope is people will seek out and enjoy the 1985 version, prompted by this remake, as both films are worthy of your attention.

First up, I’m going to get it out of the way – there are some sentences I’m uncomfortable saying, and this is one of them: Colin Farrell is superb. Yes, I said it. Superb.

Right, that’s out of the way now. Yeah, he was good in In Bruges and superb in Tigerland, but those are still four words no self-respecting human should say out loud, let alone write. Colin Farrell is superb. *shudder*. I said it again. In Fright Night Farrell plays Jerry, a terribly-named psychotic vampire who is working his way through the population of a tiny Nevada town, eating the locals.

His next-door neighbour Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) quickly realizes that Jerry is a creature of the night and promptly embarks on a mission to destroy his undead neighbor, enlisting the help of self-styled vampire killer and ridiculous Las Vegas magician Peter Vincent (David Tennant) to help take down this ancient, blood-sucking foe.

Fright Night is less likely to tickle your cerebellum than an episode of the Teletubbies, but it was never trying to be massively meaningful or metaphorical. It has been created to entertain, amuse and excite and succeeds admirably. Blood, guts, bones, fire, death and explosions, Fright Night is bold and ridiculous and also ridiculously fun.

Writer and uber-Producer Marti Noxon has continued to prove her worth, with Fright Night following the sassy scripts for Mad Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the surprisingly good I Am Number 4. Based on Tom Holland’s exceptional original, Noxon’s script is very sharp and very funny, with some excellent dialogue and tightly written scenes. Director Craig Gillespie has also produced his best work since the bizarre 2007 comedy / drama Lars and the Real Girl (we’ll ignore Mr. Woodcock for now), and Fright Night is well directed throughout.

The cast are mostly pitch perfect, with solid work from Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later) and the always-dependable Toni Collette. David Tennant (yep, Doctor Who) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (yep, McLovin’ from Superbad) also co-star as two of the more comedic characters. At first Tennant does a haggard impression of Russell Brand and Mintz-Plasse does an impression of himself, but as the film develops even these sub-characters change and develop and you really learn to love ‘em. Tennant, especially, is brilliant.

Credit has to go to Russian-born Anton Yelchin for notching up another superb performance to stand beside Chekov in Star Trek and the young Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation. He is the perfect everyman teenager, attempting to be cool but unable to shake his geek-laden roots, who is smart, sharp, kind and kick-arse in equal measure. Yelchin holds the movie together –grounding it – and it’s masterfully done.

Yeah, and Colin Farrell is superb. Dammit! I said it again. But seriously, Farrell plays vampire Jerry perfectly – he is knowingly charming, sly, dangerous, funny and genuinely disturbing – and it’s a stellar performance that will constantly make you smile.

Fright Night is not without its faults – the CGI vampire mouths are lazy and awkward, the 3D is occasionally intrusive and the St Michael-blessed stake is one McGuffin too far.

Yes, Fright Night is in 3D. Occasionally the 3D is absolutely awesome, with fiery embers floating past the screen, and at other times utterly horrific and things are needlessly lobbed at the camera (at one point a DJ throws a t-shirt across a dance floor and it looks really, significantly terrible). It is intrusive at worst, spectacular at best – but necessary? Nope.

Fright Night is great; it is funny, brutal, bloody, crazy, explosive and idiotic. Adamant remake haters will undoubtedly loath it simply because it exists, but Fright Night is an enjoyable vampire comedy that is thoroughly watchable. Watch the original and watch the remake – they’re both great fun.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

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