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.
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