As much as I would love to join the ranks of people mobilizing against every single remake of an old 80’s horror movie or older for that matter- I just can’t. I believe in giving every movie a fair shake down and let it stand on its own without using the source material as a crutch. To be honest the 2011 update of FRIGHT NIGHT stands perfectly on its own even without the familiarity of the original. As a film the remake gave me everything the original struggled to give me- a fun and engaging movie experience.
Anton Yelchin stars as Charlie, a teen trying to leave his geek past behind by blowing off his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in order to stay connected with his attractive and popular girlfriend Amy (Imogene Poots). Ed turns Charlie’s attention to Charlie’s brooding neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell), accusing him of being a vampire.
There you go- if you’re familiar with the original you know the story, if not, then that’s all you really need to know. I have seen the original and I do like it, but in all honesty I may have come late to the party. I didn’t understand all the love I’ve seen regarding it and then when I saw the update all I could think was how much I enjoy the remake infinitely more. There’s very little in the remake I had issues with and the stuff that I did have issues with are minor and will likely grow on me after subsequent viewings. Multiple viewings is the other key factor- where I have no desire to watch the original on a regular basis, I could have sat and watched his version a few more times and be delighted to do so.
What I believe FRIGHT NIGHT gets right was the decision to cast Colin Farrell. From beginning to end Farrell’s performance as Jerry is nothing short of awesome. Jerry as a character is menacing yet playful at the same time- a mix that Farrell plays almost flawlessly, making both aspects of the character a ton of fun to watch. Anton Yelchin also does a great job playing off the awkwardness of trying to leave behind his geeky childish days in exchange of popularity and hot girls. Yelchin adds in another layer when he has to convey the absurdity of his neighbor being a vampire to others. As far as cast goes the only one that didn’t fully work for me was Christopher Mintz-Plasse- I didn’t hate him, but there are moments where I could have easily done without him. I also love David Tennant as Peter Vincent- updated as an egotistical Criss Angel type of Vegas performer. Tennant lends to the goofier side of the film, but I found him to be quite hilarious.
With all the different aspects and characters at play the film is edited together tightly. Not a second of the film felt wasted and even the quiet moments have a distinct sense of purpose but are incredibly subtle. FRIGHT NIGHT has maintained the fun and playful comedy as well instead of opting for a darker overall tone. Make no mistake there are some sinister moments to the film, but they are all done with a certain playful attitude.
I watched the movie in 2D which had the lingering effects of having to watch the added CGI blood and cuts of stuff flying toward the camera- the CGI blood was the biggest detriment to the film for me. The film works despite the added gore for the 3D audience though. The vampire effects were also enhanced by CGI but I will say the effects were awesome- aside from some wonky CGI towards the end.
Given the damage done to the outlook of vampires that TWILIGHT inflicted- FRIGHT NIGHT joins the ranks of modern vampire films like DAYBREAKERS, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN that give the vampire genre the shot in the arm it needs. If for no other reason see FRIGHT NIGHT for Colin Farrell’s performance alone- it was incredibly hard not to have a total blast watching Farrell steal every single scene and looking like he’s having a blast doing it. I would never want to overhype and call FRIGHT NIGHT one of the best movies of the year, but I wouldn’t hesitate in saying it has been one of my favorites.