There was nothing much wrong with the original Fright Night from 1985. I reviewed it earlier this year and gave it what I think is a solid recommendation.
But a generation has passed since that was released, and movie audiences experience precious little rush at discovering a film a quarter century old that their parents like. So here we are. A fun little remake of Fright Night with an update to more present day conventions – meaning more swearing, more frank discussions of sex, more skin and more relevant music. None of these are bad things by the way.
Right this guy is Charlie Brewster. Charlie is the son of a single mum (Toni Collette) living in a small housing estate on the outskirts of Las Vegas, a settlement with an itinerant population boasting many shift workers and night owls.
Charlie was until very recently one of the class geeks, though somehow he has ascended up the popularity ladder and is now one of the cool kids. This apparently entitles him to a hot girlfriend named Amy (Imogen Poots) and unsolicited comments from neighbouring hot chicks in tight pants along the lines of “Gee Charlie you’re getting big” while said hottie takes out the garbage.
I now invite, suggest, demand that you look again at the picture of Charlie taken from his performance in this very film. If that all sounds logical and above board the next bit shouldn’t test your powers of imagination one iota.
Charlie’s childhood friend – and unfortunately still a nerd – Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, 4 years on from McLovin and STILL resigned to nerdy sidekick roles) is not distracted by the writing on the derrieres of hotties nor the stirrings in his own fashionable slacks, therefore he sees what others do not. Ed points out the fact that several kids in class have simply and inexplicably stopped showing up, then backs up this anomaly with a theory: it must be the work of a vampire.
Ed not only theorises the proximity of an undead bloodsucker but he also identifies his accused, Charlie’s brand new next door neighbour named Jerry, who conveniently pops by shortly afterward to introduce himself and to make drooling puddles of both Charlie’s Mum and girlfriend. Jerry is buff, hot, mysterious and nice… initially.
For those who saw the entertaining low key original not much has changed, Charlie and co quickly learn the truth – it’s fair to say that Jerry isn’t too fixated on maintaining anonymity – and the remainder of the film has them dealing with the new development.
This time though instead of a creaky old has been horror show host Charlie seeks out the advice of the only man who could possibly provide a plan of attack, a renowned Vegas magician and supposed guru regarding all things vampire named Peter Vincent, who is initially reticent to become involved but is gradually drawn into proceedings. The character of Vincent starts out a little one note but he becomes increasingly amusing and reminiscent of Russell Brand at times.
The Fright Night remake wisely doesn’t take things too seriously like remakes of Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween have done in recent years. It neatly tiptoes the line between shlocky horror and silly comedy, ably assisted by the performance from Colin Farrell that leaves the film no option but to stay at least a little silly. (It is a ‘vampire next door’ comedy set in Vegas after all.)
Things only get a little out of hand in the closing scenes where it all gets a little S.W.A.T. Paintball Commando for a few moments, with the predictable results that would ensue given such a description, but the CGI assisted gore thankfully never oversteps the mark and Peter Vincent and Jerry keep the film on the right side of the fun ledger.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Fright Night 2011 is a fun way to spend an evening, and like 2010’s remake of ‘Let the Right One in’ called ‘Let me in’, it benefits from more or less remaining faithful to the source material and by not being too clever for its own good.
(I still think the least plausible thing in the film is the nerdy kid with the hot girlfriend receiving random compliments from similarly hot strangers.)