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Fright Night (2011 remake)

The 2011 remake of the 1980s horror-comedy.

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A Remake with Bite

  • Aug 20, 2011
Star Rating:

It’s fashionable to bemoan the tragic life of a vampire, as recent films such as Let Me In and the Twilight saga have so clearly demonstrated. In all fairness, they make a valid point: There’s nothing appealing about vampirism, which transfers a desperate need for human blood and bestows the curse of soulless immortality. The interesting thing about Fright Night is that it takes everything we know about this blatantly parasitic lifestyle and still manages to make it look cool, if not downright sexy. This is helped in large part by the casting of Colin Farrell; although his character is a centuries-old vampire, his bad boy mystique is undeniably present-day, and while his soul is certainly damned, he genuinely seems to relish it. It’s not so much that he needs blood, but that he wants to need blood. It’s a game he likes to win at – the art of seduction, the thrill of the hunt, the rush of going in for the kill.
The film is, of course, a remake of the 1985 film directed by Tom Holland and starring Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowell. As is the case with most films nowadays, remakes or otherwise, it has been released in 3D. Although there’s no question that a 2D projection would have been much brighter, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that, even during the shadowy scenes, I could clearly see what was going on. Perhaps it helps that the film was actually shot with a 3D camera system, as opposed to it being shot in 2D and then converted in post production. I will not go so far as to say that I felt completely immersed, but I know this much is true: The demise of a vampire is a lot more fun when blood flies directly at the camera. Wait for the moment when one of them explodes after being exposed to sunlight – you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Talking place in Las Vegas, it tells the story of a teenager named Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin), who, after noticing that his classmates have been disappearing, has reason to believe that his new next door neighbor, the charismatic Jerry (Farrell), is a vampire. We, of course, already know this to be true, but we still anticipate the moment he will get some proof. Lo and behold, he breaks into Jerry’s house and discovers a hidden door in the back of his closet, which leads to a small hallway and a series of holding cells, behind which lie victims in waiting. The trouble is, no one will heed Charley’s warnings to stay away from Jerry, not his single mom, Jane (Toni Collette), or his girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots). The only one who would have believed him – the one who tried to warn him about Jerry in the first place – would be his former best friend, “Evil” Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). After Charley shunned him for his embarrassing nerdy behavior, he went missing.
The police aren’t much help. They never are in movies like this. But they know that Jerry has legitimate reasons for being the way he is. In fact, living in Las Vegas gives him the perfect excuses for covering up his windows and emerging only at night – if there was ever a city catered to night owls, Vegas would be it. It seems now the only one who can help Charley is Peter Vincent (David Tennant), the headliner of a vampire-themed illusion show called Fright Night. Boozy and obscene (imagine a cross between Criss Angel and Russell Brand, and you’ve got it), Vincent also happens to be Vegas’ preeminent expert in vampirism and the occult. He initially doesn’t give Charley the time of day, although it has nothing to do with not believing in vampires. All will eventually come down to a series of chases and a final climactic battle in the basement of Jerry’s house, when all the gadgetry and creature effects are put on full display.

The film is equal parts horror and comedy. This is not a bad thing at all, and I’ll be the first to admit that it features a number of well-written jokes and amusing sight gags. But horror comedies are risky, mainly because audiences might not know when a joke has ended. The people I sat with, for example, seemed to think that everything Colin Farrell did was intended to be funny. I really do mean everything; the slightest smirk, the tiniest movement of his finger, and they would get the giggles. There’s really no accounting for a person’s sense of humor, but I strongly believe the film was supposed to walk the line and provoke screams as well as laughter. If you really want an excuse to laugh, perhaps even to applaud, then just wait for a cameo appearance by ... but no, I will not spoil the surprise for you.
The standout performance of the original film was Roddy McDowell, a washed up horror movie star turned host of the late night creature feature show. In this version, Farrell is the one who brings it to the table, which is only fitting since he’s the one playing the evil vampire. Credit also to Yelchin, who was wise to play it straight, and to Plasse, whose take on “Evil” Ed is infinitely less annoying than that of Stephen Geoffreys. Given the innately unexceptional nature of the story, all the actors do about as well as they possibly can. Fright Night was directed by Craig Gillespie, who wowed me in 2007 with his brilliant debut film Lars and the Real Girl. The two films are not comparable, but that’s beside the point; Gillespie has proven that, in addition to compelling character studies, he can make gory horror comedies that give audiences license to have a little fun.


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December 18, 2011
I actually liked this one better than the origional suprisingly. It was well casted and the acting was decent. Not what id expected at all since the first one was campy but still fun.
December 19, 2011
Although it's fashionable to dismiss remakes simply for being remakes, I think it's good to keep an open mind. Your comment proves why; sometimes, they can be better than the original versions.
December 19, 2011
I think i like them both for different reasons, even though the 1st one was entertaining it was really campy and 80's-ish, like The Lost Boys. The remake however was an actual attempt at a horror based vampire flick so i have to give it credit.
September 01, 2011
I liked Evil Ed--maybe that's because I've been to too many conventions and have run into so many of him over the years... Glad to see that they kept the comedy in because you certainly couldn't tell it from the TV spots. I've read in other reviews that it is very dark and difficult to see in parts because of the 3-D. Also glad to hear that at least you didn't have any problems with it. I had trouble in the 2-D DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
September 01, 2011
In all fairness, I saw the film at a press screening, so perhaps the 3D projection was intentionally made better. That being said, nine times out of ten I recommend audiences save their money and see it traditional 2D. Although the 3D effects worked as a gimmick, they didn't advance the plot any, so there's really no need to pay extra for it. And yes, the film has both horror and comedy. As to why the ads have been downplaying the comedy, I can't say.
September 02, 2011
I wish I had the option of 2D. I waited a couple of weeks and one showed up for CONAN, but still only the 3D for this flick.
September 03, 2011
In that case, maybe you should just bite the bullet and see it in 3D. In my opinion, the story and the characters will shine through, even if the picture is dim.
September 05, 2011
Yeah. There's an 11:00 bargain show today that I plan to catch. If I've got to squint at least I won't have to pay top dollar in order o do so.
August 27, 2011
good to know that this didn't suck (no pun intended). McDowell stealing the show....that is cool. I need to catch up on movies as soon as I can. I'll be back in a few days. Thanks, Chris!
August 30, 2011
Well, McDowell stole the show in the original version. For the remake, it's Farrell who steals the show. This isn't to say that the other actors do a bad job.
August 21, 2011
Great review; just don't know if I would like this one since I loved the original!! Very well written Chris - I may see this one yet!!!
August 21, 2011
Thanks for the comment. Although the plot is obviously similar to the original, they are stylistically different, so I recommend you see it. They're both fine films in their own unique ways.
August 22, 2011
Thank you Chris--I'm guessing I'll probably see this one and you got me curious when you said that Peter Vincent's character is a cross between Criss Angel and Russell Brand; that sounds interesting!! Thanks again..
More Fright Night (2011 remake) reviews
review by . January 13, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The Rise of The Vampire Called
When I first heard of the remake of 1985’s horror-cult hit “Fright Night”, I have to admit I wasn’t really skeptical and yet, I really wasn’t that much excited about it either. I mean, the original film was a product of its generation; it had its clever charm to me when I was teen, but it never kept the same charm to me once I’ve gotten older. I was hopeful to have a grittier and darker horror film but deep down, I knew a remake just wouldn’t stray too far …
review by . December 24, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    I have some fond memories of Tom Holland's "Fright Night" from when I watched it just a few months back; and it's upon those very memories that I built my expectations for the 2011 remake. Having seen the original - which is a classic in vampire cinema -, I came in expecting vampire mythology of both the classic and modern variety, plenty of gore, plenty of special effects, and plenty of style. Can I truly say that, with those expectations set out, I was disappointed? …
review by . August 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Back when I was a wee lad and the only way to see movies after they left theatres was cable or your VCR, I stumbled across the film Fright Night. It was a bit cheesy, but it was a lot of fun, and I had enjoyed Roddy McDowell ever since I first saw him in Planet of the Apes. It was a film I was deeply fond of, and so I approached word of a remake with great trepidation. Thankfully this movie is at least as good, if not better, than the original. The story follows Charlie Brewster (Anton …
Quick Tip by . December 18, 2011
Not the crappy remake id expectes when i saw the trailer. Aside from one very quick and dumb moment it was very un-twilighty. Peter Vincents character though different from the origional came off looking like a sexy Russel Brand, and though im not a fan of the actor, Evil Ed's character was an improvement over the origional..way less irritating. I liked that the film makers pretty much stuck to having the vampires look the way that they did in the origional instead of just throwing on some canine …
review by . August 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Back when I was a wee lad and the only way to see movies after they left theatres was cable or your VCR, I stumbled across the film Fright Night. It was a bit cheesy, but it was a lot of fun, and I had enjoyed Roddy McDowell ever since I first saw him in Planet of the Apes. It was a film I was deeply fond of, and so I approached word of a remake with great trepidation. Thankfully this movie is at least as good, if not better, than the original.    The story follows Charlie Brewster …
Quick Tip by . May 19, 2011
It was inevitable. It seems like lately two things that are sure to happen in Hollywood must be remaking films from the '80s and making films about vampires for teenagers. So, of course, the idea of remaking the classic horror comedy Fright Night was a no-brainer. And that's exactly the impression it gives in the new trailer. The original film was humorous, quirky, and edgy, but it never took itself too seriously. This film on the other hand looks banal and humorless and as if it were emulating …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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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 ...
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Director: Craig Gillespie
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Release Date: August 19, 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Marti Noxon
Runtime: 120 minutes
Studio: Touchstone Pictures, The Weinstein Company, Dreamworks
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