Review: 'Fright Night' is entertaining remake
BY KIM BROWN World Scene Writer
Friday, August 19, 2011
8/19/11 at 1:50 PM
The freaks do, indeed, come out at night - especially in “Fright Night,” the 3-D remake of the 1985 cult classic, starring Colin Farrell as head freak.
And surprisingly, the A-list actor makes a terrific vampire. Enough of those other popular vampires, Edward and Eric. Farrell’s menacing vamp calls himself Jerry, and he’s new to the neighborhood. No, Jerry is not a good vampire name, but he’s a handsome devil and that’s all that matters to his new neighbors.
The goal for this remake is not necessarily to frighten but to entertain, and this is certainly a good thing in the era of grosser-is-better filmmaking, particularly in 3-D horror movies. There is a decent amount of gore - this is a vampire movie, after all - but about as much as you would see on HBO’s show, “True Blood.”
True horror fans will think “Fright Night” is tame, but for me, the movie struck a good balance of laughs and fangs.
Director Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”) and screenwriter Marti Noxon (who was a writer and producer of TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”) succeed in telling a good story with a few jolting surprises. These aren’t necessarily jump-out-of-your seat thrills, but they have the “gotcha” effect that horror movies count on.
Jerry’s next-door neighbors are a single mother (Toni Collette) and her teenage son, Charley (Anton Yelchin), who has a burgeoning social life ahead of him at his Las Vegas high school. Charley has graduated from super geek to cool kid, thanks to his gorgeous girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots).
His former, nerdier friends are not faring too well, however. In fact, they keep disappearing - a fact that is disturbing to his former best friend, Ed, played by “Superbad’s” Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
Ed is convinced that Jerry is a vampire and is prepared to fight him off with all the cliched weapons - the usual stakes, crosses, garlic - and warns Charley not to let him into the house, a well-known vampire no-no. We all know that Ed’s right, but it takes Charley some time to figure it out for himself.
In the meantime, we get to see Jerry at play - Farrell makes no bones about being evil, and he makes the wise decision to take his character seriously, instead of going over the top.
Instead, the scenery chewing belongs to David Tennant, who gets to play “Fright Night’s” most showy character, Peter Vincent: Vampire Slayer. Charley seeks out Peter for backup at his high-dollar Vegas Strip show, where the so-called vampire hunter pretends to kill vamps with a puff of smoke, trap doors and wires. Tennant goes all in with this cheeky character, and easily gets the most laughs as the gang goes after Jerry.
Adding the element of 3-D to “Fright Night” was a good decision, although the dark setting is even darker while wearing your 3-D glasses. The effects are adequately cool - a silver cross flying at your face, orange sparks floating about after a vampire is destroyed, and the occasional squirt of blood flying your direction.
At my screening, a couple of fans of the original “Fright Night” clapped in approval as a major character in the 1985 movie makes a memorable cameo. As with any remake, it’s hard to tell whether or not this will thoroughly satisfy hard-core fans.
Well-acted and engaging, “Fright Night” may not be as thrilling or as funny as Sam Raimi’s 2009 film, “Drag me to Hell,” but it’s in the same creepy neighborhood.
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Stars: Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, Anton Yelchin
Theaters: (in 3-D) Cinemark Tulsa, AMC Southroads 20, Cinemark Broken Arrow, Starworld 20, RiverWalk, Owasso, Sand Springs (in 2-D) Eton Square, Moviestar Cinema
Running time: 2 hours
Rated: R (bloody horror violence and language including some sexual references)
Quality: ••• (on a scale of zero to four stars)
In this film image released by Disney-DreamWorks Pictures, Anton Yelchin is shown in a scene from the horror film "Fright Night." AP Photo/DreamWorks Pictures