Fright Night (2011)

Fright Night 2011Starring Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots

Directed by Craig Gillespie

When held up against other Hollywood remakes, Fright Night isn’t nearly as terrible as most, which means it will probably get a huge pass from a lot of horror fans and critics. But just because a genre film defies expectations doesn’t automatically make it successful, and this latest retread is still another painfully average product of "by committee" moviemaking.

This Fright Night shifts the action to a desert suburb on the outskirts of Vegas, where geeky Charlie Brewster (Yelchin) quickly discovers his new neighbor Jerry Dandrige (Farrel) is a homicidal vampire. Just as in the original, several cat-and-mouse games ensue, and poor Charlie is left all alone with no one to help him from the fanged menace lurking outside. Since the age of the late night TV horror host has long since passed, Brewster has to turn to Goth stage magician Peter Vincent (Tennant) for help to wage war on his unwanted neighbor.

At best this modern update is a mildly amusing time killer, but it still feels completely unwarranted. The main thing that’s missing is the fun character dynamics and relationships that were the heart of Tom Holland’s original. Instead this version showcases character actors doing exactly what’s expected of them: Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin is doing his paranoid schtick, Toni Collette steps back into another thankless single mother role, and Christopher Mitz-Plasse brings us the geeky “McLovin” version of Evil Ed in his brief appearance. The protagonists are likable enough and do their best with the material, but these characters don’t leave much of a lasting impact in the end.

As we all know, horror movies live or die based on their villain, and Colin Farrel’s lame turn as Jerry Dandridge is what really does in the new Fright Night. Posing and snarling like an evil GAP model, his one-note performance is a bloody bore and better suited for a Twilight villain. It’s all the more sour when compared to Chris Sarandon’s charismatic performance in the original.

It’s no surprise that he’s completely eclipsed by former Doctor Who David Tennant, who steals the show as Peter Vincent (too bad you wouldn’t know he was in the film thanks to Dreamworks’ xenophobic marketing department). His egomaniacal take on Vincent is a clear send-up of Criss Angel and similar douchebags, but he still manages to retain the British wit and charm of Roddy McDowall. It’s too bad there isn’t more of him. Sadly, Tennant is not only underused, but a half-ass back story and hackneyed twist completely betray his character in the third act. If this film is successful enough to warrant a sequel, here’s hoping they ditch the rest of the cast and let him carry a movie all by himself.

Horror and comedy are a delicate balance, and Fright Night teeters much more toward the latter. What we’re left with is a movie that’s fun and dull in equal amounts and comes off like a lesser Judd Apatow comedy crammed with a lot of jump scares. There’s the occasional chuckle and bloody kill along with a few clever nods to the original, but it’s strung together by typical CG-laden action sequences and stock twists.

Furthermore, the decision to set this film in the nondescript Vegas suburbs makes for incredibly flat visuals and set pieces. Since much of the action takes place in empty modern day houses, there’s not much in the way of atmosphere, which makes the theatrical experience about as visually appealing as watching "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" in 3D.

Remember how the original ended with a wild fight through a vintage mansion? Well, this version literally ends on a mound of dirt with an unambitious final battle that comes off more like a deleted scene from an Underworld movie.

When all is said and done, Fright Night isn’t a terrible remake; it’s just a mediocre and ultimately pointless one. Like Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dawn, it pays enough respect to keep the fans from screaming “blasphemy”, only this time the results aren’t nearly as spectacular. While Holland’s original still holds up as a timeless love letter to the genre, the remake is content to just follow trends.

Not cool, Brewster.

2 1/2 out of 5

Discuss Fright Night in the comments section below!


LifeMi's picture

I just saw Fright Night and I got to say, I don't understand where all the hate is coming from. No, it's not perfect; the script has a lot of plot holes and the climax is lame, but I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The cast was great, especially Farrell and Tennant, and I thought most of the humor worked pretty well, although the balance between horror and humor fell too far on the humor side. I'd gladly give it a 3 or 3.5 out of 5. Can't wait to listen to the next DFF to hear your guys' reactions to it.

Submitted by LifeMi on Wed, 08/31/2011 - 12:20am.
nazo's picture

I ended up seeing this (as part of a drive-in double feature, because I'm cheap, and wouldn't pay to just watch this), and I hated it. It doesn't work either as a remake or as its own movie. Most importantly, they got all of the characters wrong. I think this is because nobody in this new movie is the same character as in the old movie, yet they still have to do the same things.

In the original, Chris Sarandon is suave, charming, and classy. He has been replaced by Colin Farrell, impersonating the most boring man on Earth. Sarandon's nightly activities were only hinted at, his house was impressive and mysterious (hell, iconic), and he charmed his way into people's trust. In this one? Colin Farrell sits around watching shows about breast enhancement, goes on a mission to turn half of Vegas into vampires (and I'm sorry, if a fifth of the student body goes missing, somebody would notice), and when people cause him problems, he blows up their house? Are you serious? All that giving the Dandridge character a backstory accomplished was to demystify him and turn this movie into the worst episode of Buffy ever. All the charm, personality, and menace of the original Jerry were gone, and there was nothing in its place.

Which brings me to the house. The original house was mysterious. Brewster only sees into it through binoculars for much of the movie, and he'll only go inside accompanied by a policeman or Peter Vincent. In this, the movie's barely started, and he's playing hide and seek with Colin Farrell in the house. Mystery? Suspense? Gone. And the house (and the rest of the neighborhood), a huge part of the original, was so generic looking, I was expecting to find out that those kids' pot dealer was Mary-Louise Parker. And I wasn't exactly awestruck by the visual design of the white hallway with the rectangular white rooms where he kept his victims. They might as well have been in room temperature meat lockers.

The only good thing about the movie was seeing David Tennant playing Captain Jack Sparrow by way of Robert Downey, Jr, but his character was so badly written, including the 'twist' mentioned in the review, that I couldn't enjoy it nearly as much as I otherwise would have. The original Peter Vincent had a pathetic quality that lent pathos to his character. This Peter Vincent was just goofy for the sake of it. And he is barely in the movie until the third act, by which time the action has started, and you're not emotionally invested in his character. After painting itself into a corner, I guess the movie needed that lame twist to justify his presence.

Speaking of lame, it was mildly annoying how Amy went from being a character who actually did things into "the love interest". And why was the nightclub scene in this movie? It didn't fit. There was no set-up for it, like in the original (Sarandon's portrait of the lady in white and his comments). There were plenty of moments like that, actually. Another example is Jerry's "seduction" of Evil Ed. Ed in the remake is basically an exaggerated version of uncool Brewster, not the slightly amoral trickster of the original. In that context, that scene makes no sense. You don't seduce the vampire hunter, you seduce the cynical opportunist! Also, Ed being more like the "uncool Brewster" means that Brewster doesn't have much of an arc. He simply goes from not believing in vampires to believing in vampires. And learns a lesson about being nicer to people or whatever.

Another moment stolen from the original with no build-up was Jerry saying "welcome to Fright Night" to Vincent. In the original, the show is all Vincent has left, his life has become pathetic, and now the only thing he has has been turned against him. In this? The show is never taken seriously, and it's never portrayed as central to the character.

There are plenty of other moments to complain about, but before this becomes a thesis, let me sum up. The characters were awful, the atmosphere was gone, the shticks weren't funny, the story was boring, and scenes from the original were recycled without rhyme or reason. Fuck that movie.

Submitted by nazo on Tue, 08/30/2011 - 5:33pm.
kiddcapone's picture

The original Fright Night is one of my all-time favorite movies and I can easily understand the dislike for this remake if you compare each version frame by frame. But this is what annoys me, people complain when it's a carbon copy or complain if it's too different. You can't have it both ways.

If this wasn't a remake, 90% of the complaints in the above rant wouldn't exist. Yes, this totally sucks ass when compaired to the original, but if you pretend it's called Ghoul School and change the characters names, you've got a hokey fun vampire movie, especially with all the other shit released lately. I certainly had more fun watching this than Scream 4, Season of the Witch, and Final Destination 5 combined.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Wed, 08/31/2011 - 7:47am.
Shambling_in_Bandages's picture

"People complain when it's a carbon copy or complain if it's too different. You can't have it both ways."

Both of these complaints would be negated if the movie-makers just made their own movies with their own characters and their own storylines. You'd have nobody saying, "This new X is too much like the original X, so what's the point of it?" and you'd have nobody saying, "This new X is so far removed from the original X that they shouldn't have bothered calling it X in the first place."

Ultimately, all anyone really cares about is being told a good story and, more often than not, a remake takes a story that was good to begin with and then frigs it up into a not-so-good story by missing the point of what made that original story a good one in the first place.

Don't these screenwriters and movie directors want to tell us their stories instead of their version of someone else's story from years ago? Don't they have stories to tell us? They're supposed to be storytellers, damn it.

Submitted by Shambling_in_Ba... on Wed, 08/31/2011 - 1:55pm.
nazo's picture

Well, Season Of The Witch is hilarious, but that aside, even if I had never heard of Fright Night, I still wouldn't have liked this movie. My problem is not so much that it is too different or that it rips off certain scenes. It's more that the stuff they changed didn't work for me on its own terms, and the stuff they kept from the original makes little sense on this movie's terms.

Let's pretend the original movie never existed for a minute. To recap some of my complaints, why the nightclub scene? Why does Farrell say "welcome to fright night?" Why does Farrell say what he says before biting Ed? I'll give you another one. Why does Farrell say "you need to have faith?" These moments make no sense in the context of the characters and story we were given. These seem like small complaints, but when you're going, "wait, why did he say that?" every five minutes, it gets annoying.

There is no build up and pay off for just about every line and scene taken from the original. In the original, the "you need to have faith" was a great moment because of what we knew about Vincent and Brewster, and it pays off later in the movie as well. In this, it's just said and forgotten. Even more than that, it's even kind of undermined by the search for magical vampire weapons in Vincent's lair.

And even if I had never seen the original, I still would have found Dandridge boring, Amy (and the Mom) nothing characters, everybody an annoying douchebag, the atmosphere insomnia curing, and the climax eye-rolling.

I think...SPOILER...the whole movie is typified by the reveal that a certain character's parents were killed by another character. It's lazy, bullshit writing at its finest, it just exists to move the characters from one set piece to another and it rings false emotionally.

I agree that most horror movies, vampire movies especially, suck, but that doesn't excuse this one.

Submitted by nazo on Wed, 08/31/2011 - 8:36am.
kiddcapone's picture

I had no intentions on seeing this. I had a dentist appointment at 1 and I figured whatever movie (Fright Night, 30 minutes or less, or Conan) was closest to the time I got out, that would be the winner. Fright Night won.

This may be a shocker to some, but I DIDN'T hate it. The vampire subgenre isn't one of my favorites. I hate remakes. I hate 3D. I can list reasons all day why I expected to hate this movie, but when I walked out, I didn't.

I actually laughed out loud (a rarity) several times at some of the Peter Vincent lines. I found him hysterical. I nearly pissed myself when the stake gun misfired "fucking Ebay".

If this wasn't a remake of a classic great movie and if it came out 20 years ago, I'm convinced it would be better received. It's no different than the large gaps in logic of classic 80's horror movies that most of us have grown up with and loved. It's really not. I'm not concerned with no one noticing a blown up house in a horror/comedy movie. That would be like hating Drag me to Hell because of the hanging anvil in the garage. We're not talking The Exorcist here trying to be based in reality. And also I thought the Sarandon cameo was just enough to work. It was spot on.

The only 2 things that I felt didn't work at all were the construction work in and under the house (hidden passage locked rooms and giant dugout basement lair? Stupid) and also finding out the Jerry/Peter Vincent backstory connection. Both were ridiculous and unnecessary in the movie.

Hell, I had fun with it.

Fright Night 4/5.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Fri, 08/26/2011 - 9:43am.
moderator I'm saving thing for Dinner
Steve Barton's picture

I'm saving thing for Dinner for Fiends. It's NOT going to be pretty.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 2:22am.
Cinemascribe's picture

Saw your tweets,UC,. I sharply disagree with both you and Andrew on this one..soulless and empty I did not think it was in the least and Farrel was plenty threatening..that scene where he confronts Yelchin at the later's back door was brimming with unspoken menace. in fact, I actually enjoyed the new film a lot. I posted a link to my review of it on the page for THC's review.

Submitted by Cinemascribe on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 3:28am.
moderator That's cool and the gang,
Steve Barton's picture

That's cool and the gang, dude. I'm glad it's working for a lot of people. It just did not work for me at all. Farrell (who I know can act) seemed distracted in every scene as if he was thinking about another role. For this I blame the director.

And I don't expect high art here, but really the plot holes and gaps in logic in this flick were gaping. Too big to distract me ... IE: A house gets blown up an a community the size of a shoebox and yet no one seems to care. Not even the owner of the now burning home seemed phased by it. Even the next day when we see the smoldering remains of teh structure there's not so much as a piece of caution tape around it. That's just one example. And you know what? I could even overlook stuff like that if only the film was fun. So many missed opportunities, especially Sarandon's cameo.

I didn't go into it wanting to hate it. Hell I love some remakes. I try to see every film with a blank slate present in my mind so I can see what the filmmaker wants to draw upon it and take it for what it's worth. Even if it's not worth much.

The new Peter Vincent bit was spot-on and the chase scene down the highway was great stuff. That's about all the good I can say about it.

It had enough nods to the original for sure, but in the end all it made me feel inside was a longing for how much better the material presented here could have been, along with a consuming need to revisit the Tom Holland's version. I guess in the end that's a good thing. If this flick makes even just one person who isn't acquainted with the source material seek it out then it's worth it. Also, I'm glad they gave Tom his due first and foremost in the end credits.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 3:53am.

Okay, I have to ask, what would have made this film work for you? I genuinely want to know.

What more did you want to see from Chris Sarandon? Did you want his death scene prolonged? More lines?

Would a piece of caution tape around the destroyed house pleased you?

Would it help if the mom had stopped driving the van to freak out about the house being destroyed? In the process getting herself killed because she was still pursued by Jerry.

Another ten minutes of police investigation to slow down the pace? More back story on Charlie?

Yes, I'm being a bit snarky but I really want to know why this movie doesn't work for you and Foy. Horror is the red headed stepchild of Hollywood. I've come to terms with this and accept that plot holes are inevitable.

Sometimes that's how scary movies come about. If Charlie and mom packed up and moved away in the beginning, the movie's over. If the dumb teenager doesn't go into the scary house, the movie's over.

Submitted by Billz on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 3:34pm.
moderator "Horror is the red headed
Steve Barton's picture

"Horror is the red headed stepchild of Hollywood. I've come to terms with this and accept that plot holes are inevitable."

You know as I sit here working this statement bothers me more and more. Mainly because it is true. Horror's always been looked down on. Do we really just have to "accept" the shortcomings of a movie because of that though? That's like admitting the genre is ridiculous and should be frowned upon, is it not?

Submitted by Steve Barton on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 6:13pm.
Vanvance1's picture

I want to make a correction here. Hollywood looks down on horror, true. The thing the best horror films do not come out of Hollywood; this is increasingly true as the decades go on.

Look to England, France, Spain and Italy for intelligent, passionate horror that pushes boundries. Also, look to the independent North American film makers, some of whom are stepping up to bat for our genre.

Remember, Hollywood makes movies for the lowest common denominator. That means dumbed waaaaaaay down. It's not surprising they provide us so little quality these days.

Personally I look down on the typical mawkish, pretentious crap Hollywood give it's greatest rewards to. The academy awards is usually a tribute to dull, slow and predictable dramas.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 9:29pm.
moderator Do you really think the best
Steve Barton's picture

Do you really think the best anyone could come up with for the meeting of the two Jerry's was just pulling Sarandon out of the car?

In the beginning the film presented some good ideas, ie: the strained relationship rift between Brewster and Ed, but it's all abandoned. Nothing is ever followed up on. Instead we get random scenes sandwiched between jumping from one action set piece to another. Is it so much to want a story that's at the very least somewhat cohesive? One with, oh I don't know, some form of heart so I actually give a shit about the characters?

And yes. A piece of caution tape around a smoldering home would have fucking thrilled me.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 3:53pm.
Cinemascribe's picture

I've actually taken a day or so to consider one specific complaint you had about about the film creepy and that's the exploding house. I have a rebuttal. I won't go into other areas where I disagree with you because I actually don't have the time right now and ,hey, people will disagree on horror films from time to time..variety makes the world go round. However, in deference to this specifc moment, I actually think the film does a good job of setting up a scenario where we might not have seen anyone investigate the exploding house.

To wit:

Early on in the narrative it is established that the mom is a realtor who is clearly still selling homes in the community..that means not all of the houses were occupied to begin with. Then it is specifcally pointed out that many of the people who move into the development are transient by nature.When Charlie points this out, Ed actually counters by suggesting that this is one of the reasons why the place would be perfect for Jerry. By the time the actual scene with the explosion unfolds, it has also been established that so many members of an already transient, relatively small community have been taken out by Dandrige that the classrooms at the school are half empty. We see in one sequence that Jerry consumes entire each of those empty chairs can easily represent an entire family gone. Immediately following the explosion, they flee the scene..jumping in the car and getting the hell out of there..the action moved away from the neighborhood for a while so we don't really know what happened on the street immediately after they fled.Finally, down in the basement, when his minions appear, there are a lot of them. This suggests that Jerry has claimed more victims than we were aware of.

Between the principles being elsewhere directly following the explosion and the implication that there weren't many people left alive in the neighborhood to react to the explosion in the first place, it seems perfectly reasonable to me that we didn't get a shot of a crowd of people in their bathrobes running out of their homes to see what happened.

Look at it this way-if we wanted to, we could find similar faults in the original. For example, no one else on their street ever seemed to notice that Dandridge's house in the orignal Fright Night was the only one with a fog bank permanently surrounding it near the climax. They even had McDowell make a quip to the effect that the appearance of the house alone suggests it's a home to evil. Now, I don't know how things went down where anyone else on this site grew up, but where I come from, we tended to notice little details like a single house being the only residence on the block perpetually wrapped in a rolling white shroud. Yet not one neighbor other than Charlie was ever seen reacting.

Or how about the final confrontation with both Jerry and his live in zombie/assitant dude in the original? Peter Vicnent fires a hand gun sans silencer several times at zombie assistant dude ..yet not one neighbor calls the cops? And hey, Jerry sure did do a lot of screaming and howling at the top of his lungs while he exploded into a massive BALL OF FLAME in his last scene, which unfolded at dawn. But no neigbors were seen approaching his house wondering what all the screaming and pyrotechnics were about.

I put the exploding house (which I thought was a nifty little trick on the vampire's part, by the way) on the same level. It's just one of those horor movie things. ;)

And the fact that Sarandon even had a walk on was enough for me. I mean I guess he could have asked Farrel if he'd seen a woman named Regine hanging around anywhere, but otherwise, I thought it worked fine.

Submitted by Cinemascribe on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 12:18am.
Steve Barton's picture

And one piece of caution tape would have totally negated the need for that entire argument.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 1:39am.
Foywonder's picture

You do realize you put more thought into explaining away a gaping plothole than the actual writers of the movie did?

Submitted by Foywonder on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 12:18am.
Cinemascribe's picture

I don't consider it a plothole. At least, I didn't perceive it that way, based on information supplied in the film. That was the point of my reply.

Submitted by Cinemascribe on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 12:21am.
Foywonder's picture

You know why I consider it a gaping plothole? Because one of the opening scenes includes a TV news report about a woman nearly being attacked by a person that tried to bite their neck. Yet exploding houses, killings right out in the open on public streets, multiple murders in a major Las Vegas hotel-casino: nada. I think this movie made me realize the true meaning of the phrase "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Cops, neighbors, they don't see or hear shit. LOL

Submitted by Foywonder on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 12:47am.
Cinemascribe's picture

I chalk that up to the time frame. Once the characters flee the house they pretty much go non stop from one place to the next because -beginning with the scene with Charlie's two high school buddies in the car and going all the way up to the setpiece in Jerry's basement - the film takes place in the space of one night, as is indicated when one of the character remarks "Whoa..what a night" near the end of the film.

True story (bear with me, it's applies) : Our city had a small prop plane crash during landing on a runway at an airport here in my area last year. This happened not more than five miles from where I live and it resulted in several deaths and a line of wreckage that shut down that runway. Not only did we not hear the crash,but it was several hours before either I or my neighbors saw it mentioned on the local news.

The last half of the new Fright Night takes place in a -what?- six to eight hour time frame? Even if the police responded to the exploding house, chances are there'd have been no news coverage until right around the time the violence at Peter's home was unfolding since the local media would be based out of Vegas and not in a transient community based on the fringes..and the aftermath of that scene in and of itself likely wouldn't have recieved any media attention until at least the following morning, after the climactic confrontation.
So again, I dont think this is the gaping plothole you guys are making it out to be.

Submitted by Cinemascribe on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 2:02am.
Foywonder's picture

Again, you're putting more thought into rationalizing these things than the writers ever did.

Submitted by Foywonder on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 2:10am.
moderator Dude ... again ... I'm glad
Steve Barton's picture

Dude ... again ... I'm glad the flick worked for you and others. If everyone liked or hated the same things the world would be a boring place. It just doesn't for me. There will never be any way for me to rationalize that a building can explode in a small town and there's no evidence of the fire department being there even if it was just two hours later.

Neither of us are going to make the other see any proverbial light or anything so let's just agree to disagree.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 2:06am.
kalebson's picture

Its already crashing and burning at under 3M for Friday night.

Submitted by kalebson on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 1:43am.
admin moderator 2 knives. The film is empty.
Jon Condit's picture

2 knives.

The film is empty. It has none of the charm, personality, or suspense of the original.

The only good parts of the film are David's scenes as Peter Vincent really. The rest of the film is too fast and barrels from action beat to action beat. Predictable and overly uninspired.

For a remake of a film that put a lot of us on this path it transcends nothing and is a hollow husk.

I would put this on par with Lost Boys 2 to be perfectly honest.

Submitted by Jon Condit on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 1:21am.
nonserviam03's picture

So I gotta say... I actually really dug this movie. It was a hell of a lot of fun.

Submitted by nonserviam03 on Sat, 08/20/2011 - 2:17pm.
Bulldog's picture

I will be watching the movie and although the original is still one of my favorites, I do wanna see what has been done. Just saw a promo for it today actually and it occurred to me that one thing I am thankful for with the cgi craze, is giving us glimpses of what we might expect from a vampire; speed, vanishing, you name it, now we can see it. I've seen Hollywood screw up a bunch of stuff but they are at least still making some 'fantasies' come true on the big screen-for some of us.

Submitted by Bulldog on Fri, 08/19/2011 - 12:56am.
Bulldog's picture

Not that anyone cares, so I will be all female on this-saw the movie, didn't like it and what would've amped it up for me? ALOT of Farrell's ass!!!! There I said it!! If he would've had no pants on for this movie I actually would've given it 3 out of 5. UC-I also had to comment on the whole house thing ( unfortunately out loud and got shushed!!! Oh the agony!!) anyhow just thought i'd stick my two cents in...

Submitted by Bulldog on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 6:00pm.
moderator Give Conan a shot - there's
Debi Moore's picture

Give Conan a shot - there's some fine male ass in that one! ;)

Submitted by Debi Moore on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 6:07pm.
Bulldog's picture

I totally agree, saw it yesterday but tried to give it a fair shake since I had read the stories! I'm all woman and the ass in Conan is uberfine!!! High and tight just like it should be!!!!

Submitted by Bulldog on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 6:30pm.
You perverts.
Matt Serafini's picture

You perverts.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 6:10pm.
Bulldog's picture

It's true. Whatever is our female society coming to?

Submitted by Bulldog on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 6:33pm.

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