Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fright Night (2011) - 3.5/5

Although the original "Fright Night" is held in very high regard here at Blood Brothers (seriously, we grew up watching it hundreds of times I think), the remake seemed like it might not update so well. The blend of humor and horror was almost perfect and it fit in so well with the cult film style of the 80s. Yet here we are in 2011 with a review for the latest horror remake. Surprisingly, this film does the story justice in the modern setting and earns some merits with its vicious violence and solid atmosphere.

Charley (Telchin) is struggling to find his new groove as a popular kid in suburbia. He's got a pretty girlfriend (Poots) who he's dying to impress, his single mother is doing her best in real estate, and things are looking up. That is until an old friend Ed (Mintz-Plasse) disappears after confessing that he believes the new neighbor Jerry (Farrell) is a vampire. Charley must now face an evil next door with the help of a skeptical girlfriend and the drunken expertise of Peter Vincent (Tennant).

My fears for "Fright Night" is that it would end up being a film of ridiculous modern humor and lacking the charm of the 80s original. Both of these are apparent in this adaption, but not to near the extent that would undermine the entire experience. "Fright Night" is a simply enjoyable film. It benefits from its R rating with its vicious horror violence that does modernize it with the extensive gore moments and fast sequences and slabs on enough atmosphere with a bit of help from director Gillespie's knack for tension. In many ways, "Fright Night" works on its horror charm ridiculously well and its these extreme moments that sell the film.

Despite its well executed horror elements, its the comedic ones that tend to fall flat. There are a few smile moments, but not to the extent that the film was broadcast as. This is more or less due to the films focus on characters and plot progressions and not "comedic sequences". They occasionally pop up with some solid lines particularly from the very expertly modernized Vincent character and his brashness, but overall its the biggest letdown of the film.

As with any adaption (whether it be from game, comic book, TV show, or film) the casting is a big part of this film. Yelchin ably pulls off the awkward but charming lead, but its the supporting cast that earns this film my respect. Farrell simply OWNS as the vampire Jerry with his weird dialogue and quirky moments and Tennant gives the film its comedic weight as our vampire "expert" and alcoholic. Just these two characters could have carried the film with a weaker lead (poor Poots gets a rather lackluster love interest though). .

As a huge fan of the original "Fright Night", its a pleasure to see this modern telling actually even hold a candle to the original. It's horrifying and funny when it needs to be and its casting is solid if not more so than expected. It does lack a bit of charm at times and seems rushed to get all of the parts in at times, but its still a solid and fun time. A definite surprise for this reviewer.

Written By Matt Reifschneider


  1. Good review but I'm going to have to disagree. (Spoilers ahead). All of the characters are completely mixed around as to what their part is in the film. Evil Ed is the paranoid one about vampires at the beginning and Charlie is too cool to believe him (of which Ed becomes a vampire a few minutes in and then doesn't resurface until two thirds in...and sucks). Amy is all about sex and Charlie denies her even before worrying about Jerry (which doesn't even occur until about 20 minutes in). Instead of Charlie playing the crazed outcast that no one believes, he is immediately justified in his "delusions" as soon as he tells Amy and his mom because Jerry completely outs himself to them all at once. Peter Vincent, as we all knew from the getgo, is a total hack. There is absolutely NO CHARM whatsoever from his character or Jerry's vampiric come-ons. Dandrige has no homoerotic sidekick play, and in fact is simply a one-note kidnapping psychotic who lives on his own. There is NO seduction, I repeat...NO seduction between him and Amy, none of the allusion to a previous love or any temptation for her to follow him in any sense. They even attempt at doing the club dance scene, but leave the sexual awakening/seduction part out of it (only a dab of blood on the lips, give me a fucking break). There is a jab at Twilight at one point, but they are really still only trying to attract that crowd, but may still even push them away with no "sparkling" or enough brooding. The best fucking part? Chris Sarandon does a cameo. However, it would have been so cool if he made some sort of smartass remark like "I've known more charming vampires" or something of the sort...instead, Farrel just kills him within seconds. And needless to say, any trace of homage to Hammer/AIP horror or any gothic influence for that matter is completely absent.

    Barely a week ago, I was lucky enough to see the original again on the big screen in a newly struck 35mm print and with Tom Holland in attendance. That was the only thing keeping me from burning down the theater while watching this shit remake.

  2. Believe it or not, I actually agree with most of what you said. Haha. I would have killed to see the original one in theaters with Tom Holland there. Double feature it with "Child's Play"!

  3. A remake worth looking at, cool!