Fright Night (2011)

Dir: Craig Gillespie, 2011

8/10

Remake or reimagining?

Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a teenager living in Las Vegas, with his mum, Jane (Toni Collette). 

Believing that his new next door neighbour, Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell), is a vampire, Brewster enlists the help of famous magician and follower of the black arts, Peter Vincent (David Tennant) to help him fight the vampire.

Based on the 1985 film of the same name, to call it a remake is unfair. It’s a million miles away from a Tom Holland’s original. 

Aside from little nods to the eighties classic, the only thing it has in common are the characters names and the title.

Fright Night should be judged as a film in its own right, without total comparison to the other.

Having said that, the differences must be noted for a record of how much Marti Noxon changed Holland’s cult classic.

Noxon has brought the underlying humour that ran through the ’85 film, to the fore and accentuated it, making it less subtle but funnier.

The first half of this version, focuses on the horror with, nary, a smile to be had. It isn’t until Tennant’s portrayal of Peter Vincent do the laughs start flooding in.

In fact, there’s a joke just in the casting. Imogen Plots is English, Colin Farrell is Irish and David Tennant is Scottish. 

So, there’s an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman….

Add Australian Toni Collette into the mix and you’ve got a real smorgasbord of nationalities.

Roddy McDowell played Vincent as a kindly, old gentlemen who was very approachable. Tennant plays him as a self-absorbed, egotistical prig, with fake tattoos and facial hair.

But, his Englishness is the characters saviour. Spitting “fuck” in every sentence, and using British colloquialisms, Tennant is given all the best lines and improves, what could have been, a disappointing and platitudinous horror.

It was great to see Chris Sarandon in a cameo as one of Dandrige’s victims. A shame they did get William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse and Jonathan Stark to make appearances. An ode to Roddy McDowall in some way would have been good.

The biggest change in character is that of Ed/Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Rather than just being an irritant, he’s astute and Machiavellian, without any of the memorable lines.

Loaded with CG effects, some of it looks a tad poor, while others are outstanding.

Fright Night is a fun and enjoyable romp, that doesn’t add anything new to the genre but does, pleasantly, pass the time.

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