If you’re not aware, Fright Night is not exactly a new story. It wasn’t a new story when the first version came out in 1985 and it’s not new now that the remake is in theaters. The original came from an idea from then writer/director Tom Holland who wanted to do a spin on “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. In it, a boy named Charley Brewster discovers his next door neighbor is a vampire.
Of course, no one believes him until it’s too late.
The original 1985 film Fright Night was something of a cult classic and shares the same plot and characters with the 2011 version. This time around though, the movie feels closer to a summer blockbuster than it does to a campy straight-to-video release with effects that are much cleaner and frames that are more thought out. The cast is also spectacularly good, and they take this rather ordinary story to surprisingly entertaining levels.
A lot of that is thanks to Colin Ferrell’s prowess as an actor. He plays Jerry the vampire (a ridiculous name for a vampire as the protagonist points out in the film). Ferrell fidgets. He smiles a little too easily. He won’t keep eye contact. He just creeps you the fuck out, really. Ferrell throw himself so hard into the role that you can’t help but believe that he’s an animal that’s just barely holding himself back from tearing your throat out.
Anton Yelchin plays Charley and is perfect as the dorky, but loveable, lead. He’s just so easy to root for, even if he has ditched his nerd friends for the cool crowd. It’s easy to see why the cool girl, Amy, falls for him. Amy is played by the gorgeous Imogen Poots. She is the requisite damsel in distress, but the writers have given her some scenes to show that Amy isn’t just the bimbo. She has some balls, too.
Another stand out part is Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Charley’s friend, Ed, whose odd brand of dorky just shines in this part. He gets a significant amount of screen time despite the smaller role. Then there’s Doctor Who’s David Tennant. I didn’t even know it was him until he took off the beard and wig. He’s as entrancing playing the illusionist Peter Vincent as he was playing the Man from Gallifrey. Rounding out the cast is Toni Collette who plays Charley’s mom who also kicks some butt, driving a Century 21 right through the back of one of the monsters (and then promptly fainting).
Fright Night is one of those movies that make me wish they still had drive-in theaters. It’s got that great mix of horror and comedy that just makes you want to jump out of your seat and roll on the floor laughing in turns and keeps you reaching for the popcorn. The casting, the acting, the script, the effects, the monster design, the music: all of it comes together to play you like a harp and make you sit up and pay attention.
And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that the vampires of Fright Night are the complete antithesis to the Twilight species. They don’t sparkle: they glisten, covered in blood. They don’t have telepathy: they can smell your fear. They don’t mope: they brood and lurk and stalk and they would totally rip poor pansy-man Edward’s throat right out.