I went to see this screening with my buddy Dave. As we were driving there we were talking about how the original Fright Night from 1985 used to scare us when we would walk by it on the shelves at the video store. This was when we were kids...and when there were video stores. When I finally got around to watching the movie that had a poster that scared me so much, I was relieved and disappointed to find out that it was more of a comedy than a horror movie. As I got older I grew to appreciate that they did both genres so well, but that made me nervous that a remake was going to be attempted. If the comedy wasn't there or the horror wasn't there, then I wouldn't want to be there either. Luckily for me, Fright Night from 2011 is something worth sinking your teeth into.
See, in the '80s and '90s vampire movies were still made that were fun. The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Love Bites, From Dusk Till Dawn, Blade...these were all movies about vampires that were a lot of fun to watch. Now they're all brooding and in love. They all have tortured, sad stories and lack the visceral violence that made us flock to the cinemas for the blood that we craved. I mean, how pathetic is it now that the most popular and highest grossing vampire saga of all time features vampires with no fangs and no blood?!!? Fright Night reclaims it all though and thank God it does!
The new version follows the exact same plot of the first one, where a teenager thwarts the attempts of his vampire next door neighbor who tries to kill his whole block. The teenager is played by Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, The Beaver) and the vampire is Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Horrible Bosses). They're also joined by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kickass) and a scene-stealing comedic juggernaut in David Tennant (Harry Potter 4, How to Train Your Dragon).
Coling Farrell is rapidly becoming like Brad Pitt to me. At first I hated them because I thought they were nothing but pretty faces in movies that have nothing to say because they lacked the talent to deliver good lines. But as the years go on, both actors have really impressed me with bold movie choices and stellar performances. Fright Night continues that tradition for Farrell, who seems like he really enjoyed playing the vampire Jerry...yes, Jerry. (Fans of the original will also be tickled to see a cameo from Chris Sarandon (The Princess Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas) who was the original Jerry.)
Another surprisingly great performance is from Mintz-Plasse, also forever known as McLovin, who is doomed to play a high school student for the rest of his life. He starts the film exactly as you'd expect but really impressed me with how he ended it.
What made the whole experience fun was the tone that was set by director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Mr. Woodcock). He incorporated some straight-up 3D gimmicks that you'd expect to see in a theme park attraction but made it work in the context of it all. It was gory, scary, fun and hilarious. Fright Night starts off a little slow but builds to a wonderfully satisfying orgy of blood and comedy by the end. It also does something I'm sure it didn't set out to do; it sends out a message to the vampire movies we're saturated with today: A little more biting and a little less sucking!
Fright Night (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B+