“I may not be drunk enough for this” – Peter Vincent
Fright Night, a remake of the 80’s horror film of the same name, aspires to be a blend of Rear Window and Dracula. But the best parts of this movie are used sparingly, giving us far less Rear Window, and more tween drama.
Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a jerk and a social-climber whose biggest problems in life are blowing off the guys he was friends with for years and spending enough time with his hot girlfriend. Keep in mind, this is our main character – we’re supposed to want to see him succeed – and more than anything, I wanted to serve him up to the vampire myself.
Brewster lives in a small neighborhood outside of Las Vegas. It’s an area that people are constantly moving into and out of. But his geeky former-friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) concludes that this is happening a little too often, and manages to conclude that there are an unusual number of disappearances happening in an area centered around Charlie’s house. Why this kid’s in High School when he’s already a capable forensic scientist is a question the movie never answers, but while staking out the area he gets ‘irrefutable’ proof that Charlies’ neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire.
This proof comes in the form of comical video recordings of a truck door opening on it’s own (remember, vampires don’t have reflections and apparently can’t be filmed). After Ed goes missing Charlie ceaselessly investigates his neighbor the vampire, which is odd since Charlie just wanted Ed to go away and leave him alone.
His investigations bring him face to face with Peter Vincent (David Tennant) a stage magician, self-proclaimed occultist and vampire expert. Of course, he’s also a washed up drunk who knows how to spot a lunatic when he sees one. (Pro tip: Someone claiming their neighbor is a vampire is usually a lunatic.) He then vanishes from the movie until the last act.
Fright Night is a shining example of why Hollywood shouldn’t remake every movie under the sun. Because while it was nicely self-referential to see Colin Farrell bite Chris Sarandon, who played the vampire in the original, this remake refused to share it’s best toys with the rest of the class. And if they’re going to do that, I’ll keep my best review scores for another movie.
Devil’s Advocate Review: 2 Pitchforks
That said, David Tennant and Colin Farrell were absolutely brilliant.
Colin Farrell makes a wonderful villain. He lurks in the shadows, he grins in a way that’s both inviting and unnerving. He toys with his prey and brings a nice sense of menace to the roll. It’s not until the end, when his character starts going off on monologues about how Brewster won’t ever stop him that he becomes just another baddie.
And Tennant is criminally underused. He’s easily as much fun to watch as Farrell and is the only character that gets better lines. The scene where Brewster is ‘interviewing’ him is hysterical, and anyone willing to admit that he’s only going into a vampire’s lair because he’s drunk gets a lot of credit from me for his honesty.
These two performances manage to save the movie from being a master-level class in what to avoid when remaking older movies, and help turn Fright Night into a movie that you can sit back and genuinely enjoy.
Reviewer’s Score: 4 Pitchforks