With a game cast and playful tone, Fright Night takes us back to the days when vampires were to be feared and horror was fun to watch, yet still stands as another unnecessary remake.
The 1985 original, which was written and directed by Tom Bollard, still holds up today as an entertaining horror comedy. Yet this is Hollywood we’re dealing with, and while imagination is scarce, entertainment can still be found in Fright Night.
After the film’s opening creepy, blood intro, we are introduced to Charley (Anton Yelchin), an insecure Las Vegas teen who hits the jackpot when he scores the hottie Amy (Imogen Poots) as his girlfriend.
Life is good until his best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) tells him that there is a vampire in town feeding of the populace. To make matters worse, that vampire is Charley’s new next door neighbour, Jerry.
Cast in that role is Colin Farrell, and he has fun playing an un-dead eating machine, filling the role with acute mannerisms and eccentricities, sniffing the air for his prey and feigning human pleasantries to try and fit in with humanity, before ripping their throats out.
Out of his depth, Charley seeks the help of Las Vegas illusionist Peter Vincent, played by the films other scene stealer David Tenant, countering Farrell’s menace with rip roaring humour. Yelchin is left to play the straight man, which he does well.
It is through their performances that the horror/comedy dynamic works so well in Fright Night, director Craig Gillespie allowing his actors to go all out with their roles. Gillespie also structures some terrifically tense scenes, while staging the occasional in joke as well ( a cameo from original star Chris Sarandon is a highlight).
Yet as the marketing says, this is Fright Night in 3D, that dreaded extra dimensional format which has proven itself more of a distracting that an asset, with this film no exception. The digital sheen also doesn’t become it. Night shots – that vital concept needed in any vampire movie – come off as too bright and synthetic, hardly a good thing for a horror movie about creatures of the night.
If Fright Night was remade purely to take advantage of such new technologies, it failed. But take away those components, and the performances and direction make up for its faults.
Then again, for better results you could just re-watch the original.