Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Imogen Poots, David Tennant
Running time: 102 minutes
Release date: 14 August 2011
With most remakes, it’s incredibly difficult not to compare and contrast with the original source material. However, the most recent version of Fright Night makes it easy to separate the two productions and view them individually on their own merits. This modern take grabs the premise of a vampire moving in next door and removes much of the suspense element of the original, opting instead for action (and fast-paced action at that), which ups the ante somewhat and may just twist your expectations of what you anticipate will happen.
When Jerry Dandridge (Farrell) moves in next door to Charley Brewster (Yelchin) and his mother (Collette), it coincides with a number of local teens going missing. Sure, Jerry appears to be suave and likeable, but with the investigative skills of his school-friend Ed (Mintz-Plasse), Charley quickly realises that Jerry is a vampire. Whilst the 1985 version built up a slow-burning paranoia riff stolen straight from Hitchcock’s Rear Window, this version goes straight for the proverbial jugular. There is no creeping around here, as Jerry decides to take out the Brewster clan along with Charley’s friends and girlfriend, Amy (Poots). He even blows their whole house up, before pursuing them into Las Vegas.
In Sin City, Charley tries to enlist the assistance of Peter Vincent (Tennant, channelling his best Russell Brand impression), a stage magician who collects curios and artefacts via eBay. Vincent initially shrugs off Charley’s request but agrees to get involved after some evidence seems to confirm Charley’s story and Jerry attacks his home. With Charley’s mother in the hospital and Jerry having kidnapped Amy, it is up to Charley and Peter to put a stop to Jerry’s reign of bloody terror.
Like the original, this version doesn’t take itself too seriously and Farrell showcases a deliciously sinister role as Jerry, utilising his usual alpha male charisma with an added bloodthirsty glee. Tennant seems to enjoy camping it up as the very British Vincent and even Mintz-Plasse seems almost perfect to play ‘Evil’ Ed. To ramp it up with explosions and a mini road trip to Vegas heightens the experience and ensures that the running time doesn’t drag. There’s even a fan pleasing, albeit ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’, cameo by Chris Sarandon.
If there are any complaints, it would be the overuse of some dodgy CGI in places where normal practical FX would have sufficed, although believability in a vampire film is surely never at the top of a director’s wish-list. Perhaps Yelchin seems a little too old to be playing a teenager – after all, we’ve already seen him playing the roles of Kyle Reese in Terminator: Salvation and Chekov in the Star Trek reboot – but when has Hollywood ever worried about casting twenty-somethings as school kids?
Purists and die-hard fans of the Tom Holland version will probably hate this, but overall, and taken on its own merits, this modern slice of suburban horror is a fun vampire flick. As long as you don’t expect anything thought-provoking, then this is one remake that’s worth viewing.
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