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!


Vanvance1's picture

Personally I am shocked and stunned. I thought the most important thing to a woman was a sense of humour! That's what the media says. All of that time memorizing 'knock, knock' jokes when I should have been doing squats.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 7:49pm.
moderator "All of that time memorizing
Steve Barton's picture

"All of that time memorizing 'knock, knock' jokes when I should have been doing squats."

Funniest post of the day! LOL

Submitted by Steve Barton on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 9:31pm.
Bulldog's picture

I think you might go back to the media and double check-it should read 'good sense of humor' and knock knocks won't get you anywhere fast! I managed a (to put it delicately) gentleman's club for 10 years and in that time I'm almost positive I've heard it all!!! Ironically, just when I think women as a whole are being brighter about their choices, I walk around in public for a bit and am horribly disappointed.

Interestingly enough, when I visited the theater these last couple of days, Conan had a very poor showing of women and all but myself and two others lasted the entire movie. Fright Night on the other hand, was all a quiver with females and the guy that tore my ticket chuckled and kind of asked if I was a Farrell fan like all the other women that were going in. Being the kind of person I am, I was taken aback by the comment just because when my husband and I went to Conan the day before, that employee didn't ask my husband if he was a fan of Rachel Nichols. Why must people assume that women go to a movie for the male lead ( although I am a fan of Farrell, it wasn't my intention to go just for him) and that we can't be interested in violence, action, or horror? These are the movies I watch- I will NOT watch a chick flick. I feel that they give women in general false expectation's and therefore are let down by the men in their lives.

Really went off subject for a bit but got back on then off again and now back on-kind of!!! I AM easily distracted-especially by a man doing squats and making me laugh...

Submitted by Bulldog on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 8:28pm.
Vanvance1's picture

They are suprised because most women DO like romantic comedies. Sometimes to please a woman you must sit through one of these painful disasters. If only they'd remember the COMEDY part (sighs) and not make the men in those movies such complete and total contemptible twats. And I'm sorry, but you cannot expect me to believe that anyone would find Meg Ryan that appealing... she has all the sex appeal of a rock.

Going back to my squats and deadlifts now, because the truth has come out and a saggy ass means no action!

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 4:13am.
nazo's picture

I don't see why this needed two reviews. From this review...When held up against other Hollywood remakes, Fright Night isn’t nearly as terrible as most. From the other review...but it's [Fright Night] also one of the best remakes I've seen over the last few years. See? If you know how to read these reviews, they say the same thing. That this movie is one of the better Hollywood horror remakes of the past few years, but doesn't exactly transcend that subgenre. And armed with that information, I will strenuously avoid watching this one.

Submitted by nazo on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 11:30pm.
moderator Dude everyone can just about
Steve Barton's picture

Dude everyone can just about find at least one thing to agree on! ;)

Submitted by Steve Barton on Thu, 08/18/2011 - 12:14am.
DavidFullam's picture

Guess it didn't break the 4th wall enough for the reviewer.

Submitted by DavidFullam on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 8:18pm.
Rottenjesus's picture

I used to like that joke. Then someone had to keep making the same joke on every one of Andrew's reviews because they thought it would be hilarious. It's not anymore.

Quit it before someone breaks your 4th wall with a shiv to the gut.

Submitted by Rottenjesus on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 10:05pm.
DavidFullam's picture

And I love you too.

Submitted by DavidFullam on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 10:17pm.
Rottenjesus's picture

My money's going to DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK next weekend. Fuck this remake x 666.

Submitted by Rottenjesus on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 8:04pm.
Matt Serafini's picture

Great concluding line.

The original movie is one of my all-time, top five favorite films. I will probably like this less than Andrew.

My money's going to CONAN this weekend.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 7:49pm.

Same here! Which is why I won't pay to see either this or The Thing remake.

Submitted by LSD Zombie on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 8:45pm.
nonserviam03's picture

The Thing isn't a remake, it's a prequel. It was clearly just titled by the same people who came up with The Final Destination, Fast and Furious, and Rambo.

Submitted by nonserviam03 on Sat, 08/20/2011 - 1:33am.

Judging by the trailer and an early AICN review, it's a remake. I don't care how many Norwegians they throw in, they're not fooling me from thinking it isn't a remake.

Submitted by LSD Zombie on Sat, 08/20/2011 - 3:21pm.
Vanvance1's picture

This sounds believable. I will eventually see the movie, but I refuse to contribute dollars to another needless remake.

The other gushingly positive review on this site claims that Marti Noxon is a talented genre writer. I remember her episodes of Buffy being among the worst of the bunch.

The director, Craig Gillespie, was responsible for a flat, dull and drawn out drama called 'Lars and the Real Girl', a movie with a promising premise and a put-you-to-sleep execution.

It isn't surprisng that such an uninspired duo would make an uninspired movie.

If the remake had to happen a saner choice would have been to choose a director who loves the genre.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 7:40pm.

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