There are few horror remakes that work, usually because they fall into all the genre traps and failings that the original helped set up. It’s a common fault, and one would not judge audiences for turning their noses up at the films, after all we’ve been hurt so many times by films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, The Eye and A Nightmare on Elm Street, each dragging the originals name through the mud, why should a movie like Fright Night be any different? Two things make Fright Night stand out from the crowd, Craig Gillespie and Marti Noxon, this director and writer team pulled the rug from under us by not only making a capable update of Tom Holland’s 1985 original, but actually making something just as good. The film follows Charlie Brewster (Yechin) who has to square off against his next-door neighbour (Farrell) who may just be a vampire.
Tom Holland’s original motion picture is sort of an 80s classic, it’s one of those rare horror movies that works despite having quite a large cheese factor, it’s still quite scary and an effective/original tale. The remake takes the groundwork that made the original and builds upon it. The first smart move is moving the setting to the suburbs of Las Vegas, it’s not an often-used setting and it’s nice to see another side of Sin City. The idea of a transient town where nobody settles down is a smart move for a vampire movie (though it would be more effective if it characters didn’t make reference to this throughout the film). The second smart move is the wonderful casting; Yelchin and Farrell are terrific leads. Farrell is in a career comeback at the moment and this is a great role for him, a grand villain role, though of course the person who steals the film is David Tennant as Peter Vincent; some critics have claimed that the role of Vincent was clearly written with Russell Brand in mind but it seems to be deeper than that, Tennant seems to be playing a parody of a Brand type which is far more interesting than seeing Brand playing himself (as he does in every movie).
The film sticks to the originals plot loosely, it keeps the general themes but the action plays out quite differently. There is some real action in this film, whilst the main set piece of the original was the finale, but here we have chase sequences and fights that really pick up the pace. It’s not all good though, the film has been released in 3D and whilst it is sometimes used effectively, being a vampire film it is mostly set at night, the colour loss is awful, there are points in the movie where it seems that the film is in complete darkness. The special effects are also not up to par, the original movie used practical effects, some of which were truly disturbing and terrifying, the CGI used here whilst well done are never effective in scaring the audience. Horror doesn’t seem to be Gillespie’s goal here though; there is more adventure than scares.
Fun, that’s what describes this movie perfectly. There is so much fun to be had from start to finish in Fright Night, great characters and cast, smart script and effective pacing keep the audience completely engaged. It seems the only downfalls that the film suffers are technical; the 3D hinders the enjoyment as it plunges the audience into complete darkness and the special effects just make us pine for the days of practical effects. Despite it’s minor flaws this is a great piece of entertainment and is incredibly easy to watch. Easily the finest in the current trend of horror remakes.