A tweet a few weeks ago asked, “If Marty McFly travelled from 1985 to 2011, would he see posters for ‘Footloose’,’Conan’,’Fright Night’ and be very confused?” Edgar Wright, director of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the author of this tweet, has a good point. Hollywood seems to be obsessed with remaking and building franchises out of anything viable today. With remakes of Robocop, Total Recall, and various other films in different stages of development, I begin to wonder where original films will come from anymore. The economy seems to make people afraid to take a chance on something new anymore.
But that aside, of the remakes currently in release, Fright Night actually has substance. Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is just another teenager. He has grown out of his geeky ways and friendships to embrace a more popular life in high school. When students start disappearing from around the local community, Charley’s estranged friend Ed comes to him with a theory: a vampire in the community. Not believing it, Charley is blackmailed into joining Ed as he investigates and tries to prove to Charley his vampire-next-door idea isn’t fiction. Not long after, Charley learns the truth for himself. His new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is infact a bloodsucker, but only Charley can stop him.
The film succeeds in being exactly what it advertises (a rarity these days in movie trailers). It is a solid and tense film that knows when to play it for laughs and when to play it straight. Yelchin grounds the movie by being relatable and not over the top. Farrell plays Jerry in such a way that he often feels bigger than the film himself. The dialogue these two actors trade gives the film a sense that Jerry may or may not be a vampire (even though it clearly displays it is). Had they held that realization until later in the film, I feel the story would have been even tighter. But that would limit David Tennant’s scene-stealing as David Blaine/Criss Angel parody Peter Vincent.
Had the film recasted Ed, here played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad‘s McLovin), the film could have been more spook and less joke. But despite it’s shortcomings, Fright Night still gets the story across without an overabundance of clichés and cheats. 3 out of 5 stars
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