When Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) gets a new neighbour, Jerry (Colin Farrell), he is initially more concerned about him hitting on his mum than anything else. It is soon revealed that Jerry has more on his mind than sex; he is a vampire. After his friend goes missing, Charley turns to the one person he thinks can help him, Las Vegas showman, Peter Vincent (David Tennant).
Remaking a much beloved horror classic was always going to set alarm bells ringing in the heads of fans, but the good news is, this new version of Fright Night is as good as you hoped it would be. Anton Yelchin is growing into a great leading man and his characters arc spookily matches that of his career; Charley has recently changed from nerd to popular kid, and Yelchin is growing from teenage underdog into a fine leading man. He is strong enough as a fickle teenager to carry the film, but of course it helps that he has a fantastic supporting cast around him. Christopher Mintz-Plasse, as Charley’s ex best friend Ed, plays a role that starts off similar to the loveable geek role he always plays but soon develops into something a lot more sinister. Toni Colette shines, as always, even though she is not given a lot to do other than look lusty, then scared.
As the 1985 film did, this new version relies on Jerry, the vampire at large and Peter Vincent Vampire Slayer. Colin Farrell clearly has the time of his life playing the moral free monster who seems to enjoy nothing more than playing with his food before he eats it. Farrell’s performance is filled with understated malice and over stated animalistic behaviour with a considerable dollop of charm. This role, combined with his recent turn as an absolute nightmare boss in Horrible Bosses, proves that there is much more to Farrell than pretty boy leading man. David Tennant will always be Doctor Who, but in this role as Las Vegas showman Peter Vincent he goes some way to shedding the role that he will always be remembered for. Vincent hides a tragic past behind booze, women and profanities and Tennant obviously relished not playing the romantic hero for once. He camps up every scene that he is in, it is just a shame that the script – at times – only allows Tennant’s great comedic timing to show through cursing.
With Fright Night, director Craig Gillespie shows that he has more notes than the sombre one he hit with Lars and the Real Girl, and directs a thrilling tension laden remake. Marti Noxon hits some lovely Post-Buffy tones with the script, the clever setting and the sarcastic relationship between Charley and Ed being high points. The 3D highlights some wonderfully shlocky moments that will have the audience flinching away from the screen, but on the whole, it makes a film that will lack light by definition even darker. It is nicely used at times, but those times are too few and too far between.
Overall, Fright Night ticks every box. It is funny when it is supposed to be, scary when it is supposed to be and is filled with just the right amount of guts and gore to keep die hard horror fans happy, but not scare away the wusses (like me!). The casting is spot on, and – for the most part – problems with the original have been fixed. While Farrell may be oozing sex appeal through the first half of the movie, do not be fooled. This ain’t no Twilight. This is a vampire movie where the creature has no redeeming qualities; he has no soul and wouldn’t care for one. A remake that may actually keep fans of the (now horrifically dated) original happy? A rare thing indeed.