Fans tend to get upset when Hollywood decides to remake a treasured movie, but I don’t see much harm in it if the reboot is well done. Fright Night, the 1985 cult-classic horror-comedy, was not exactly Shakespeare, but it was a lot of fun. Fright Night, the 2011 version, is not as witty as its progenitor, but it, too, is a lot of fun.
Director Craig Gillespie and scripter Marti Noxon get a lot of things right in their remake, and they even toss in an improvement or two. The story’s new setting, a cookie-cutter suburb of Las Vegas, is ideal for a vampire movie. Already hellish, this bland chunk of isolated real estate is ripe for a monster invasion.
The film also retains the original’s sense of humor. Anton Yelchin, as an awkward teen who suspects that his new neighbor might be a blood sucker, is an inspired piece of casting. Yelchin is utterly believable as a kid struggling with high school horrors and, once Jerry the vampire (Colin Farrell) moves in next door, much, much more. Charley is such an innocuous Every Kid that, five minutes after the film ended, I doubt that I could have picked him out of a police lineup — and that’s a compliment.
But Fright Night version II can’t quite top the original. David Tennant, as monster hunter Peter Vincent, is no Roddy McDowall. Baby-faced Farrell is much better than I expected as the hunky vampire, but when the time comes for him and his fellow undead to enact the titular “fright night,” the results are a bit of a letdown. Special effects can only do so much. Grade: B-
Director: Craig Gillespie Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco, Reid Ewing, Sandra Vergara, Emily Montague Release: 2011
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