Twitter Plot Summary: Charley Brewster’s neighbour is a vampire but nobody believes him except for stage magician Peter Vincent.
Five Point Summary:
1. Fright Night of today = internet and mobile phones. And vampires.
2. We’re heading off in a new direction to the original. I like.
3. Hah, nice cameo.
4. Twists aplenty!
5. Nice call back to “traditional” vampire maidens wearing virginal white robes.
The original Fright Night was a cult B-movie, not exactly top of the list when it comes to possible remakes but it was popular enough to warrant a new version, yet not so popular that everybody will have seen it and thus all cry out in impotent rage at the mere thought of a remake. I’m a card carrying fan of the original, yet I didn’t have any concerns about a new interpretation. I’m not absolutely sure why, but I’ve never had much of a problem with remakes – much like my attitude towards zombie films, if they can do something new to the formula, put their own spin on it, then I’m mote than happy to give it at least one viewing.
This 2011 remake takes a slightly more fun tone from the start, albeit just as knowing and self-referential as the original. The main amendments are the switch from practical effects to CGI, and of course the obligatory amendments to the plot, to both modernise the narrative and introduce a couple of new elements for the fun of it. The CGI doesn’t work as well as it should, but it’s mostly acceptable. By the time Colin Farrell is an entirely CGI creation you may have lost interest, which is a pity.
Colin Farrell makes for a suitable Jerry Dandridge, perhaps more so than Chris Sarandon’s turn in the original to an extent. Much more insidiously sexual than Sarandon, he’s unfortunately left with less to do in terms of the story than Sarandon – he has a couple of big scenes but is mostly intent on being the vampire equivalent of a slasher flick villain. It’s a shame because his introduction is rather good, soon lost amidst the effects and a one note desire to just eat people and not be the least bit subtle about his vampiric qualities.
The change to Peter Vincent also seems appropriate for the modern era, a foul-mouthed TV magician based on our current era of David Blaine style magicians rather than the late night horror anthology presenter of the 80s edition. I would argue that there isn’t nearly enough of him in the script, partly because the character is an absolute hoot, and also partly because it’s David Tennant and he is always value for money. I can’t say much about Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the teenagers involved in this, as they don’t have much to get their teeth into. Pun intended.
The effects and direction of the story are more impressive than the original, and the amendments to the story keep fans of the 1985 edition on their toes. It’s substantially the same story with different narrative beats. There’s more for Charlie’s girlfriend Amy to do, because of course a lot has changed since 1985 in terms of male/female imbalance in film. Perhaps not nearly enough has changed on the whole, but still it’s progress. Beyond this, however, there’s little more to her than “hot girl stereotype”, no defining characteristics to her beyond that. An opportunity missed. Likewise, Charlie Brewster in this instance is less definably an outsider, just that he fell out with long time friend Ed because of their geeky/nerdy past.
It has to be said then, that despite my good will towards the remake, I still have more affection for the 85 edition simply because it was quite happy to play with the conventions of the vampire film and still create an engaging narrative. Whilst Fright Night 2011 lacks that angle, it is at least a coherent story with some fun dialogue and plot developments.