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Senior Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) finally has it all. He's running with the cool kids and dating the hottest girl in high school (Imogen Poots). But all hell breaks loose when charming Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell) moves in next door. Charley thinks there's something odd about him, although no one - including his mom (Toni Collette) - seems to notice. But after too many of his classmates vanish under bizarre circumstances, Charley comes to an unmistakable conclusion: Jerry is a vampire preying on his neighborhood! Get set to sink your teeth into this thrilling, modern-day re-vamp of the wickedly entertaining horror classic. Featuring a star-studded cast and crawling with bonus, Fright Night will captivate you from the very first bite!
Arriving amid a flurry of dopey sequels and dudes with power tools, 1985's Fright Night came as a welcome blast of fetid air for the horror genre: an affectionate spoof of classic monster movies that also managed to deliver some genuine scares, as well as a pair of top-notch performances by Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowall. The 2011 revamp (apologies for the pun) can't boast the same novelty factor, but it does a surprisingly good job at speaking for itself, just the same. Director Craig Gillespie's film follows the same basic blueprint as the original--high-school kid (Anton Yelchin) suspects that his next-door neighbor (Colin Farrell) may be a Creature of the Night, enlists celebrity (David Tennant) for help--but with a number of smart alterations, particularly the decision to move the setting to the desolate outskirts of Vegas, where unexplained disappearances and nocturnal lifestyles are par for the course. (Kudos to cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, who gives the nighttime scenes a musty, tangible vibe.) Writer Marti Noxon, a Buffy vet, keeps the dialogue light, while also delivering some sharp insights about the state of today's Twilight-savvy teen. (In perhaps the biggest switch from the original, the barely veiled gay subtext has been replaced with a cautionary tale about outgrowing your friends.) On the debit side, Gillespie and Co. can't always replicate their source material's atomic-clock timing, with a few promising scares undone by miscued comic relief. Still, a horror movie ultimately lives or dies by its villain, and Farrell delivers a beaut, as a hilariously type-A vampire who'd rather chug a beer than pose languorously. At a time when the undead are notable mainly for their romanticism and supernatural hair-care prowess, Fright Night does its best to bring the fangs back into the equation. --Andrew Wright
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Top customer reviews
Director Craig Gillespie (The Million Dollar Arm, The Finest Hours) wasn’t known for horror, nor is he now (beyond this movie). But here he is making a contemporized remake of the very first contemporary vampire film ever: Fright Night (1985). In doing so, we relocate the Brewster family from northern California to Las Vegas, a city in which night owls and late shifts are the norm and children of the night need no camouflage.
Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin; Odd Thomas, Green Room) is a solid iteration of the original. He and is single mother (Toni Collette; Krampus, The Sixth Sense) find a handsome single man moving in next door and Charley’s love-hungry girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots; 28 Weeks Later, Green Room) is the first to notice when his attention deviates away from her advances to the goings-on of his mysterious neighbor. 2011’s Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse; This is the End) offers context to two once-best friends who have now grown apart, but are now forced to face their local threat; whereas 1985’s Evil Ed is clearly strange and is, to some degree, a friend or ex-friend (or something), yet neither his nickname nor his relationship with 80s-Charley are explained.
Our new Jerry (Colin Farrell; Total Recall, True Detective) is quite the change up from 1985’s Chris Sarandon (The Resurrected, Fright Night). Sarandon was seductive, smooth, and offered every opportunity for his would-be protagonist victims to survive if they would just look the other way or accept whatever he offered; more forgiving and, perhaps, wise from his lengthened undead years. But our fanged Farrell, while cagily charming, is typically more sleazy, crude and predatory before his patience is even tested—creating a more cat-and-mouse semi-slasher tone in lieu of occult mysticism.
Jerry also moves in with little baggage, and nary a ghoulish servant or subordinate vampire in sight. I liked the bullying humor and domestic kinship Billy (Jonathan Stark; House II: The Second Story) brought to the original. For me it was disappointing finding nothing analogous in role or tone. But a great contemporized remake victory is found in Peter Vincent (David Tennant; Doctor Who), who feels perfectly modeled after an occult-themed Criss Angel (Mind Freak) with a passion for vampirology and a sarcastic cowardice.
Overall, this remake makes decent use of parallels to the iconic scenes of the original, but really they pack none of the atmospheric punch. This is a great flick, a “good” horror movie, but it can’t hold a candle to the original. That said, this remake clearly succeeds at giving us quality entertainment. Yes, I’ve seen it more than once. Yes, I will watch it again. And yes, I bought it. But no, I won’t watch it a fraction as often as the original. Why…?
We get a toothy maw transformation, some Jedi-jumping and wall-crawling, and all manner of blood gushes. But where’s the rest? Truth is, these CGI effects lack the practical old school charm of Amy’s gaping monstrous mouth. In fact, the effects generally don’t impress much at all. That’s not the film’s strength. This remake succeeds on the merits of its cast, and everyone seems to do a fine job. From Tenant’s quips to Charley’s frantic desperation and Ed’s hammed up campy vampire shenanigans, I enjoyed this a lot despite the lack of any memorable effects. It barely does any justice to writer/director Tom Holland’s (Child’s Play, The Temp, Thinner, Fright Night) original but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Give it a chance.
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