While there are many things a film needs to be successful a remake needs two additional aspects for it to succeed. In addition to everything a regular film needs, a remake needs to be able to bring something new to the audience and it needs to be a tale worth retelling. Out of all the recent remakes, Fright Night scared me the most because I didn’t feel it could bring anything new to the table and I did not think it was a tale worth retelling. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) has a problem, his new neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell) is creepy and the evidence points towards him being a vampire. Of course Charlie does not believe at first but after his childhood friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) goes missing he begins to investigate further and things spiral out of control quite quickly.
The first half of Fright Night is effective set-up it, exploring Charlie’s character and painting Jerry as a mysterious figure. Oddly though the film does away with any sense of subtlety as Jerry is outed as a vampire to the audience very early on. Without the possibility of Charlie being wrong about Jerry there is very little tension in their interactions. Fortunately the second half of the film picks up the slack delivering a tight and tense narrative.
While the second half of the film could have ventured into straight on horror territory, Fright Night stays true to its roots and lightens the mood at just the right times with a healthy dose of humor. Much of this humor comes from the vampire hunter Peter Vincent. In the original film, Peter Vincent was played by Roddy McDowall and his portrayal has made the character into something of a cult hero. David Tennant takes on the role in this remake and he makes the character his own. Vincent’s interactions with Charlie are genuinely funny and his turn from coward to hero is believable every step of the way and it is all due to the natural charisma that Tennant possess as an actor.
Fright Night is very well acted across the board and it helps elevate the film above the standard horror fare that is generally released to theaters. Fright Night‘s focus on the characters and not the next death scene makes it stand out from the pack. That is not to say that Fright Night does not carry its own weight in the horror field though. While it is not particularly gory, the film should satiate the desires of most horror fans and most importantly it gets vampires right.
Over the last five years vampires have seen a major resurgence in popularity due to the likes of Twilight and True Blood. While the popularity of those series cannot be disputed, their portrayal of vampires can leave a lot to be desired. Vampires do not sparkle and they do not live out their lives as if they are starring in a late night Cinemax feature. Vampires are mysterious and charming but also brutal creatures with a lust for blood over all else. Fright Night understands this and builds its horror foundation on this. Together with its solid narrative and well executed performances Fright Night delivers one of the best horror experiences of the year.
4 out of 5.