Unreal Movie Review: Fright Night

2 out of 5 stars

What’s worse than a vampire movie in an era currently plagued by them? How about a remake of a vampire movie? That’s two Hollywood sins at once, and boy doesn’t Fright Night know it.

The film desperately tries to do something fresh with the genre, ditching the extreme action movie angle found in Blade or Priest or Underworld, or the sappy romance of the dreaded Twilight trilogy. Rather it’s gone for something best resembling a “comedy thriller,” but despite moving the subject matter elsewhere, it doesn’t feel terribly original.

Charley (Anton Yelchin) is a dorky teen who has grown out of his awkward phase and blossomed into the sort of goof that can somehow attract a super hot girlfriend (Imogen Poots). He’s left his nerdy friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) behind in favor of a cooler crowed, and life appears to be going great until…

Vampires! What else?

Blade, he is not.

Kids start disappearing from school, and without hesitation, Ed blames evil neighborhood vampires. Charley laughs him off, as he should, but once Ed disappears as well, and he catches his new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) munching on a go go dancer, he quickly becomes a convert.

Thankfully the why and how of the existence of vampires is completely abandoned, and the film mercifully spends very little time in the “you’ve got to believe me!” phase where he tries to convince his girlfriend and mother (Toni Colette) that Jerry is for real. Him almost blowing up their house and hunting them down as they flee in their car does that job just fine.

Rather, the film then shifts to more or less “vampire war” where Charley seeks out the help of alleged vampire slayer Peter Vincent (David Tennant in a role that Russell Brand must have passed on). He’s a charlatan and a fraud who just has a smoke and mirrors Vegas show act, but once he realizes how serious it is, gets off his drunken ass to help.

Criss Angel: Vampire Hunter

Fright Night has much in common with Disturbia at first, with neighborhood spying and sneaking into houses to prove guilt. The first halves of the film are more or less identical, and only when the vampire assault begins does it change.

Things…escalate quickly as the film goes from covert ops to full frontal assault in a hurry. There’s plenty of blood and carnage, and a very strange directorial choice to make the vampires have CGI alter egos that take them to full demonic form. It doesn’t feel like it fits in the film, and thankfully is only used sparingly.

I liked Charley’s transformation in the film from dork pushover to brave vampire hunter by the end. Equally good is Colin Farrell’s Jerry, who would make a welcome addition to the True Blood cast as a recurring evil character.

The smolder.

But there just isn’t much to this movie. The only thing taking it into the bizarre is Tennant’s Peter Vincent, and the film might have been more interesting had it focused only on him.

I’m not here to make comparisons to the original film, but standing alone, Fright Night is just forgettable. It does something marginally different with the genre, attempting to bring back the horror to creatures who now either sparkle or serve as mutated snarling action movie fodder, but it’s just not compelling enough to make an impression.

We’ve been sucking at the neck of this vampire film movement for years now, and you can feel it starting to run dry.

2 out of 5 stars

  • JZ

    You said Poots. Ha!

  • Madison

    Eh, I liked it. I thought it knew what it wanted to be and did so successfully. It wasn’t quite as camp as, says, Drag me To Hell (we both liked that a lot, right?), but it never took itself too seriously. I normally hate Yelchin, and I thought he was fine in this, and Farrell was a total creep, as he should have been.

    Anyway, yeah, I thought it was fun and I enjoyed it.

    You are totally right about the Tennant role being made for Russel Brand.

    Two complaints, however: 1) there was nothing really clever about how Charlie took out Jerry – it was more or less brute force, and 2) I would have liked to have seen Jerry hit on/seduce Charlie’s mom a bit more. Lots of potential there, and it kind of wastes Toni Colette, who’s a pretty good actress.

  • johnny

    I get that vampires need to feed and all but don’t you think disappearing a whole town might call attention to yourself and that they would want to stay away from that.

  • Kimberly Temple

    I did like this. A lot, actually. I could barely see anything and the sound was off, but I still enjoyed it. Ferrell was perfect, creepy yet attractive. Tennant, I love. I thought he was perfect, too! It’s not the most amazing movie to come out in theatres, but I enjoyed it and probably will buy it when it comes out. 🙂

  • Sam

    I think you are right that Russell brand turned down t. hat role but boy am I glad he did. David tennant is so talented and Russell brand couldn’t even hold David tennant’s hat(? That doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean.) Star watching doctor who Paul and you will quickly see what I mean. I really enjoyed the movie, I thought it balanced humor and horror very well, but I will admit the CGI was iffy at best.

  • Dtrain

    I never write comments but if you remember watching the original it was good but this version corrected some of the mistakes that bothered me. *Spoilers* The original fright night had some dumb teenage kids. I mean c’mon but you don’t go to a vampire house and say to the police yeah he is a vampire and then go back several times. I mean what do you expect either he is an idiot or your both just want to enjoy each others company. I mean they keep having get together and they both know one of them has to go, sheesh. The one scene that drove me up the wall was in the original when they ran in the public place at night where no one was going to recognize them. The remake made sure to comment on that. The biggest pet peeve I had from horror movies from that era except a few (like Lost Boys) was every vampire was some kind of Dracula wanna be. That being said, at the time I watched it, it was fun little movie. The remake in my opinion wasn’t stupid, the acting good, and how Charlie defeated the vampire was clever. Was it a better movie, well actually it was a different movie. It was a straight horror with smart people. Plus if you call someone Evil, well we all know the foreshadowing, so obviously he is going to become evil, nice they dropped it out. Don’t let nostalgia ruin what is a good remake.