Movie Review: 'Fright Night' 2011

Maybe it’s the cold and early nightfall. Possibly, it’s the “binge viewing” of ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ that I’ve been doing on Netflix Streaming.

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Whatever it is about the long, cold, dark nights of Winter…I always end up drawn to the scary stuff this time of year.

Tom Holland’s 1985 genre classic ‘Fright Night’ was one of my favorite movie-going experiences as a much younger Flixnerd. The fresh take on the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” wherein a teenager suspected his new neighbor of being a bloodthirsty vampire, was smart, funny, and sexy.

25 years later, Craig Gillespie enlisted the talents of Colin Farrell, David Tennant, and Anton Yelchin in a remake that, for the most part, is just as good as the original film. In some ways, this newer ‘Fright Night’ is even better than the original.

Yelchin (‘Star Trek’s’ Pavel Chekov) is well-cast as the teenager, struggling to fit in and survive the social anxieties of high school, whose new neighbor just may be a vampire. Jerry (Colin Farrell) isn’t your sparkly, moony-eyed, emo-vamp either. He’s a bloodsucking, violent force of murderous intentions.

‘Peter Vincent’ gets a major character facelift from the original film. Gone is the wobbly-kneed aging actor, as played by Roddy McDowell. David Tennant’s Vincent is a Vegas attraction as an illusionist, a drunken disaster of a human being, and a very funny improvement on the unwilling vampire hunter from the original film.

Tom Holland’s story is still the basis for Gillespie’s film, but it’s been made into a leaner, contemporary, and entertaining horror-suspense movie.

There’s much less character development in the 2011 version. Today’s audiences are accustomed to a faster pace (see: short attention spans) and casting is critical as a result of less time spent on getting to know our characters.

Anton Yelchin is perfect as Charlie Brewster. Charlie is a kid who’s trying to figure out if he’s as cool as he thinks he is anyway. And now, he has to battle the undead creep next door.

Yelchin is intensely likable and convincing in the part. He’s a good young character actor to begin with, but with ‘Fright Night’ shows that he can carry a film as it’s put-upon hero.

Colin Farrell, who has steadily built up his “genre cred” in films like ‘Minority Report,’ ‘Total Recall,’ and ‘Dead Man Down,’ has a sinister sexy charm and menace that make  this ‘Fright Night’ villain a dangerous physical character. Chris Sarandon, who played Jerry in the original, owned the role in ’85, but with a completely different and traditionally sensual approach.

David Tennant, best known as BBC TV’s legendary ‘Doctor Who’ from 2005-2013, is a profane and boozy riot as the uncouth rock-star-magician Peter Vincent who Charlie comes to for help in slaying vampires. Unless you’re a Criss Angel devotee (sorry if that’s you) Tennant’s a hoot.

The original ‘Fright Night’ benefitted from it’s “Halloween-esque” atmosphere of a monster amongst us suburbanites. This version is much more contemporary and smartly deviates from some plot points while retaining some scenes that fans of the original will know and love.

This newer ‘Fright Night’ is smart, intelligently executed, bloody, sexy, and fun.

Flixnerd Rating: ‘Fright Night’ (2011) ★★★★☆

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