Fright Night is a remake of a 1985 movie of the same name featuring Chris Sarandon. If you are a huge fan of the very campy '80s-ness of the first film, the sleek, well-produced new movie may not resonate with you. For everyone else, Fright Night should come across as a well-produced, well-acted, very much overlooked movie in 2011.
In Las Vegas, suburbs pop up out of nowhere, with square grids of houses leading out to lonely roads. Such is the perfect setting for a film about a vampire roaming among empty and half-built houses, looking for invitations to suck people’s blood. We are introduced to this vampiric behavior in a house in one of these suburbs, as a young man hides after his entire family has been sucked dry. After a humorously frightening moment with a moved body, the young man also succumbs, and thus we are introduced to the type of movie Fright Night aspires to be: funny, in-the-moment, a little suspenseful, but overall an entertaining ride.
Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a teen who is into Foster the People’s “Pumped up Kicks” and brand new Keds. He’s also into Amy (Imogen Poots), who just might sleep with him one of these days. His life seems to be going pretty well, until his old buddy, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), informs him of a vampire living next door. Jerry (Colin Farrell) works night construction and has a strange habit of bewitching those who get too close.
It takes a while to get into the whole vampire spirit; although it would be less believable if Charley bought in to Ed’s conspiracy theory right away. Unfortunately, this isn’t a buddy comedy, and Ed soon falls into the vampire’s trap, leaving Charley to seek advice from Vegas stage magician and self-professed vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant). With the help of the none-too-happy Vincent, Charley resolves to face the handsome vampire and save the day.
The whole plot is ridiculous, but it works, often helped along by an arresting performance by Farrell and some comic relief via Mintz-Plasse and Tennant. A scene where Jerry nonchalantly attempts to get invited into Charley and his mother’s home is particularly engaging, and perhaps illustrates best why it all comes together.
The characters in Fright Night pop. It’s often hard to find such a heavy-hitting cast of resonant or likeable characters in comedies and it’s even harder to find such a cast in horror flicks. Fright Night is both a little bit of horror and a little bit of comedy, and it far and away features more well-written characters than most genre flicks. [This probably has a lot to do with the screenplay by Buffy veteran Marti Noxon - Ed.]
If you were worried about the potential of a remaking a horror flick from the mid '80s, I’d say worry no more. If you were assuming the worst, I’d say what a shame. Fright Night may be a lot of things, but it never once feels like a waste of time.
This disc is not very clean. Moving through the menu is jerky. The first thing that pops up is the language menu, which seems a little strange, but it could just mean the movie is being marketed more in foreign languages.
Where I think Fright Night gets it wrong is the 3D. It’s not that there are glaring errors in it or any problems other than scenes that are too dark in 3D, it’s just unnecessary to the watching of the film, which may be the biggest possible criticism of a 3D film. The added cost of 3D also might be a detraction for purchasers who were hoping for a bit of cheap fun.
It’s too bad the 3D cost is rolling at around 50 bucks (although it’s on sale for $29.99 on Amazon), because the bonus features with the set mostly work. All the David Tennant fans out there will get to see him reprise Peter Vincent in a “Come Swim in My Mind” fake promotional segment. Some of the deleted scenes are worthwhile, as well. Even the “How to Make a Funny Vampire Movie Guide” works.
One of my favorite features is an over-the-top Kid Cudi music video. Though the song itself is dark, it parodies the events in Fright Night, thus making the experience of watching it unintentionally humorous. “Squid Man: Extended & Uncut” is also a pretty great watch, if you are interested in seeing a little more of Ed and Charley’s sophomoric play dates.
For the most part, the cast and crew just seems to be having a whole lot of fun. If only some of the choices made relating to the film had been a little more serious, it could have been an unexpected hit.