There are some movies that should come with a warning label attached to them.
The 2011 version of Fright Night is the perfect example that there really isn’t anything considered sacred or revered by Hollywood anymore, as they continue to remake every film that ever had any remnant of a following. It's rare for any of these remakes to match the original version, and unfortunately this updated take on Fright Night is little more than an underwhelming, opportunistic pillaging of a cult classic. This debacle is simply Hollywood trying to make a couple dollars by capitalizing on the naiveté of a new younger generation.
Fright Night is a crude, pilfering aberration that, although based on the film of the same name that debuted in 1985, is significantly less enjoyable because it mangles anything and everything that endeared the first film to fans in the 80’s. That being said, the original Fright Night was not a great movie by any means. It was extremely campy and loaded with poor special effects, but what the original did possess was some undeniable pizzazz that completely seduced audiences and elevated it to cult status.
This new calamity maintains much of the same premise but with a modern perspective. However, it lacks the charm and the fun loving nature that the first film did. It does still attempt to combine the elements of humor and horror but is significantly less successful, as the perpetrators of this crime failed to remember that the audience needs a little more than eye candy and some (poor) special effects to better a story.
This new atrocity returns most of the characters from the original including Charlie Brewster (1985 - William Ragsdale / 2011 - Anton Yelcin), his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse / Imogen Poots), Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys / Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and Jerry (Chris Sarandon / Colin Farrell), the vampire from next door. There are some minor changes to the story that end up greatly reducing the level of enjoyment of the movie. Amongst them, the cat and mouse game between Jerry and Charlie is magnified, and the role of Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall / David Tennant) is changed from a movie star/TV show host to that of a stage magician. This completely alters the Peter Vincent/Charlie Brewster dynamic, which is a change for the worse because, although Vincent is still used a vehicle for information to fight vampires, the audience never feels the connection that made Charlie seek Peter out in the first place. It also hinders the friendship that came out of their chance meeting.
Its quite simply a lackluster attempt at horror. The films biggest issue is that is doesn’t clearly define what it is. In the beginning it’s a horror movie, by the middle it’s a comedy, and at the end it's an action movie. The problem is that it doesn’t do any of them too well nor does it mesh them together coherently. It really is more about teenage eye candy than anything.
One of the new aspects that did work is the multiple references to many other vampire movies, like Twilight and Dark Shadows. Unfortunately the few subtle references to the original movie are not nearly substantial enough to pay it the homage that it deserved. We have things like Amy wearing the same type of white dress as in the original, and a couple of the more memorable phases (such as "Welcome to Fright Night"), however, all in all it didn’t attribute enough to the original film.
The new Fright Night cast is comprised of some uneven performances. Anton Yelchin does an admirable job as Charlie Brewster, despite the boorish nature of the film. The role of Peter Vincent played by David Tenant is the major plus of the movie. Despite the changes made to his character, and the Peter Vincent/Charlie Brewster friendship, this version of Vincent does add some much needed genuine non-forced humor to the story. He's a true credit to the original character. Christopher Mintz-Plasse attempts to bring the comic relief aspect to the film as Evil Ed, and has a few brief flickers of enjoyment in the film’s waning moments. But the poorest performance by far comes from Colin Farrell. He's easily one of the worst vampires ever seen on screen, and brings little to nothing to the film. This was the biggest downfall to the movie. Are we really expected to buy a vampire that watches reality TV after feeding?
As a fan of the original Fright Night, this film already had a lot going against it, but it really doesn't even attempt to win me over. I wanted to enjoy it but as it does little to nothing to separate itself or even compel a fan like myself to enjoy it alongside the original... it's impossible. The truth of the matter is that after watching this movie, it makes you appreciate the original even more. There was no charm, it's full of poorly timed humor, plus it has one of the worst uses of CGI ever, which completely killed another level of possible enjoyment.
Stick to the original.
Da’Mon is a writer and artist, a graduate of Coppin State University and an avid, life-long lover of film. Da'Mon has been actively writing movie reviews since 2011. Check out more of his work at Examiner.com, where he has published over 400 reviews. Visit his Blog and follow him on Twitter.