Fright Night Review
by Bret Dorman
I saw the original Fright Night (1985) one year ago at the Music Box Massacre. Twenty four straight hours of horror movies. And the last movie of the night was the cult classic, which many of the die hard horror fans seemed to love. I on the other hand loved that I got to see it with a group of people who loved it, but felt the movie itself was a cult movie for a reason.
I was looking forward to a remake.
The Story: Charley (Anton Yelchin) is told his new neighbor is a vampire by his ex-best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). At first he doesn’t believe it but then whoa! turns out the neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell) really IS a vampire! Yikes! Also, the horror movie TV block Fright Night has been changed to a Vegas live spectacle.
I am very very certain that those die hard fans I saw this movie with at The Massacre… would GO NUTS during this movie and nit pick over every small little change and absolutely FREAK OUT over every huge change. Me on the other hand… I’m all for it. Change it up. If I want to watch a corny Fright Night I’ll watch the original… if I want to watch a more self-aware and spiffy Fright Night, I’ll watch this one.
Problem is… I don’t like the overall tone of ‘trying to be cool’ in this movie. It very much feels like a vampire story transplanted into some O.C. story line. The main character Charley is obsessed with being cool. His girlfriend is too hot for him and his mom is even hotter. His friends are mismatched… one is a jock douchebag and one is a stupid pothead stoner. He very explicitly turns his back on his old friend, the very nerdy Ed.
I don’t like that this movie wasn’t made based on real high school life, but rather the ultra fake high school life that only exists in TVs and Movies and that some people think they should try and emulate. This movie was desperately trying to be cool instead of just being cool.
Having said that… this movie also is very fun. It knows its conventions and the pace is super fast. In the first 10 minutes Ed tells Charley about Jerry being a vampire. Halfway through everyone else is forced to believe him too.
The biggest change that I did not like, the one thing I think the original did do right, was the Peter Vincent character. Here he is just some cocky butt hole who happens to know a lot about vampires and his reputation as a vampire killer is self-mocked right from the beginning. In the original the name Peter Vincent meant something to the characters and the audience. Here its just a joke from the beginning. He really didn’t need to be in the final act of the movie either.
A lot of praise is being thrown to Colin Ferrell, who is having a good time as Jerry. He does do a good job, but I think some of the praise is over rated. I had fun with the performance, but in the end its still stuck in the context of the movie. Nothing about it really stands out or makes it memorable. Ferrell is smirking to the audience perhaps a little too much and it feels a tad too stiff, instead of letting loose a little.
I will say I like how the movie sticks to the point. This is about Charley Vs Jerry. At one point the cops are called in, near the beginning of the movie, and its rather funny how they are dealt with. Then that’s it. We addressed the cops once, no need to do it again. This movie isn’t about Charley running to the cops every 15 minutes. Its about him protecting those he loves and confronting Jerry. The movie is ridiculous and you could point out all the absurd things and criticize it for not being ‘realistic’ but its a vampire movie. And its going to have fun with itself.
In Conclusion, I didn’t expect to have as much fun as I did and perhaps lowered expectations helped. I definitely think this is an improvement on the Fright Night story, but not the movie I want. The first movie had a geeky, horror-fan, low budget charm about it and this movie replaces that charm with self-mocking references and a more glossed up vibe.
I’m looking forward to the next remake.
Final Grade: B