(Read this in my publication In Retrospect – Issue 2)
Fright Night, directed by Craig Gillespie, is a remake of the vampire-centered horror comedy of the same name, originally written and directed by Tom Holland in 1985.
Opening with the killing of an entire family on a secluded estate in Los Angeles, we are introduced to the provocative vampire Jerry (Colin Farrell), a 400-year-old killing machine who is the new neighbour of Charley (Anton Yelchin) and his mother Jane (Toni Collette). Former friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has already figured out Jerry’s secret and attempts to warn Charley about his murderous neighbour.
Dismissing Ed’s seemingly ridiculous assertion, Charley goes back to hanging out with his new, cool friends and his popular girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots). But when Ed stops turning up to school, along with a number of other teens off the morning’s register, Charley takes it upon himself to try to stop Jerry for good.
Jumping on the vampire band waggon, Fright Night is a weird mix of comedy and horror. Separately, the comedy and the horror are both used efficiently and the film makes you jump a number of times. It becomes an odd combination when they both are used so infrequently, not making you laugh enough and then trying to be serious in between the odd wisecrack. It’s hard to know where the film is going most of the time and, in some places, the mix of genres doesn’t work.
Moreover, the first half of the film is very slow, introducing the characters and filling in all the background story without it really going anywhere. It’s only when magician and vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant) gets involved when the entertainment begins. Vincent, a Russel Brand-esque alcoholic fraud and wimp, helps Charley to understand more about Jerry and explains how he can be destroyed, before hiding away when any real trouble arises.
Both Tennant’s and Farrell’s characters suit them really well and they, therefore, play their roles flawlessly. Farrell seems made for his sexy vampire persona as he licks the blood off the necks of his female prey and then again when he transforms into a more vicious vampire when brutally killing any male. Yelchin, however, was pretty disappointing and doesn’t give audiences anything to relate to. His shy and weak character reminded me of Aaron Johnson’s lead in Kick-Ass; whilst you can try act as something much bigger, you’re still well out of your league. For me, it just didn’t fit.
As always, the use of 3D wasn’t needed but it was made good use of. With constant blood splattering off-screen and a number of objects thrown our way as a defence against Jerry, it was used in quite a comical way.
The 1985 original had a sequel as well, titled Fright Night II, so I guess we can presume the same within the next two years too.