‘Fright Night’ Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 19th, 2011 at 3:00 pm,

Fright Night Review Fright Night Review

The original Fright Night was far from being a cinematic masterpiece, but it did pull off the difficult trifecta of being funny, freaky and all-around fun. The movie (and so many other campy B-movies like it) has carved out its place in the hallowed hall of fan nostalgia, which is why the notion of remaking the film has been met with ire, anxiety, and more than a bit of annoyance.

So, do director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) and his cast manage to make their remake a worthwhile venture, while still honoring that which made the original Fright Night a cult-classic?

Short answer: Pretty much.

The premise is the same, though the setting has changed: Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) lives in a small development community just off the Las Vegas strip. It’s a community where people come and go with the desert wind, and many residents are used to a lifestyle of sleeping through the day and working their nights away on the strip – so it’s of little portent when more and more of the cookie-cut houses in the development start turning up vacant, or kids from Charley’s school get marked down as perpetually absent.

Only one person is preaching doom: Charley’s former best friend “Evil” Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a geeky spaz who Charley has left behind in his climb up the high school social ladder, a journey prompted by snagging his hot girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots). Ed tries to sell Charley on a crazy revelation: that Charley’s new lothario neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell), is actually a ferocious vampire who has been preying on their isolated community. Charley, of course, thinks immature Ed is simply reading too much Twilight.

However, it soon becomes apparent to Charley that Ed may not be so crazy after all. But as Charley realizes the truth about Jerry, Jerry realizes that Charley has learned his secret. From there it becomes a battle for survival, one which Charley cannot win alone – and so he desperately seeks out the most unlikely vampire hunter one could imagine, illusionist Peter Vincent (David Tennant), to help put Jerry in the grave for good.

Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin in Fright Night Fright Night Review

Farrell and Yelchin battle in 'Fright Night'

If you can’t tell from the premise, this is the type of film which relies heavily on tone to avoid collapsing under the weight of its own silliness. Thankfully, director Craig Gillespie knows exactly what this film needs to be: light in the funny parts, tense and gripping in the scary parts, with an undercurrent of playful B-movie tongue-and-cheek throughout the proceedings. It also helps that Gillespie is a very competent director, able to create great set pieces, good action sequences, with a sharp eye for color, lighting, and space. The script by Marti Noxon is witty, winking and well-paced, and Gillespie manages to craft some truly tense and scary moments where appropriate. The general air of self-deprecation keeps the movie fun no matter what is going on, and the cast of actors all embrace that sense of kitschy fun in their respective roles.

Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell are an unlikely, and yet extremely effective, pairing. Yelchin is good about conveying Charley’s journey from being an ex-nerd playing cool, to a bug-eyed weirdo stricken with paranoia, to a ballsy fighter determined to protect those he loves. The young actor has skill and range and puts both on display without ever weighing the role down by taking things too seriously.

Farell looks like he’s having a blast as Jerry, a character that allows him to play up both his pretty boy suaveness and bad boy menace with equal aplomb. It’s clear that we’re living in an age where the image of the vampire has taken a sharp turn sideways, because seeing a vamp who’s nothing but cunning and ruthless is so familiar, and yet, so refreshing. As Evil Ed says at one point, “He’s not lovesick, or misunderstood, he’s the @#$%ing shark from ‘Jaws’!” And it’s a welcome return to form for bloodsuckers everywhere. Farrell chews the scenery (and his victims) and spits out bloody good fun.

David Tennant as Peter Vincent in Fright Night1 Fright Night Review

David Tennant as Peter Vincent in 'Fright Night'

One role many fans of the original will be critical of is that of Peter Vincent. The iconic character was originally played by legendary actor Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes), who was as hammy as he was fun. David Tennant (Doctor Who) steps into the role of Vincent and manages to make it his own, while still keeping the character equally hammy and enjoyable as the original. He gives Vincent great quirks which make him larger than life and memorable – an addiction to Midori Melon Liqueur, an understated (and hilarious) send-up of celebrity image and ego, etc. Tennant’s Vincent steals many of the scenes he’s featured in – though his foul-mouthed assistant, played Sandra Vergara, definitely steals a few moments right out from under Tennant.

Ironically enough, the more prominent female characters leave less of an impression than Vergara does, even though they are played by talented actresses like Toni Collette and Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later). Christopher Mintz-Plasse is something of an established brand of character actor at this point, so his “McLovin” version of Evil Ed isn’t quite as fresh or enjoyable – though he does get some time to ham it up too, later in the film.

Tony Collette and Anton Yelchin in Fright Night Fright Night Review

Finally, the 3D format of Fright Night is well constructed – which is especially impressive, given that a lot of the film takes place at night. 3D tends to dampen color schemes, but not once did the movie get too dark or murky to make out what was going on – nor did it suffer from the depth distortion which plagues other 3D films. On the other hand: a lot of what takes place in the first two-thirds of the film doesn’t require the added the dimension. People walking and talking and hanging around everyday environments is not something we need to see in 3D.

It isn’t until later, when the action kicks into high gear, that there are some truly worthwhile 3D moments. The rest of the time, GGI gore spraying out at the audience is pretty much the extent of the effect’s usefulness. I will say this, though: whether purposeful or not, the hokey 3D gore effects do add to the campiness and are just another layer of B-movie fun.

All things considered, Fright Night manages to give an old idea a fresh modern spin, but doesn’t sacrifice the original’s kitschy fun factor as a result. Definitely one of the better horror movie remakes out there.

If you are still on the fence about seeing the movie, take a look at the trailer. Once you have seen it, tell us how you would rate it by voting in our poll below.

[poll id="180"]

Fright Night is now playing in 2D and 3D theaters everywhere.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. looks good

  2. Well I Know what Im going to see this weekend. Great review Kofi

  3. Glad to hear its good, Tennant is the man.

  4. I actually might check this out. Big fan of David Tennant, so it’s good to hear he is good in this film. I’d have hated to see his first film since leaving Dr. Who be a c*apfest.

  5. Cool!

  6. I saw the original version in 1985 and I was hoping this latest version would not disappoint me…..it was good and enjoyable. I also liked(mild spoiler) the nod given to the original Jerry, Chris Sarandon.

  7. I would have gone half a star lower – I enjoy the original much more than I did this one. Has much more charm.


  8. Does this vampire at least flee from the crucifix, as was the case in the original?? I’m guessing… NO!!

    I’ll prob see this, though, it looks like a good time. I just wish they’d faithfully remake the original ‘Dracula’- FAITHFULLY- at long last.

  9. I just got home from seeing this. It was funny and enjoyable. If you’re on the fence about seeing it, wait for the dvd. It’s not a must-see-at-the-theater movie. However, if you just want a fun night out, it’s a good time.

  10. Absolutely hate the original. Thought it was pure crap. I had no interest in this until I saw the cast. Now I have to see it because it has such an awesome cast. Not to mention the generally positive reviews. I’m also a big fan of Marti Noxon so I’m in to actually go see this in theaters. Despite my general distaste of horror and absolute hatred of the original. Calin Ferrel, Marti Noxon, Mclovin and that name I can’t spell from Star Trek and Terminator Salvation kid.

    • Lol, so you hate the original, dislike the horror genre, but you’re going to see this because of the cast and your adoration of Marti Noxon ( yea her work on I Am Number 4 was amazing! LOL)? Well i guess this souless remake reached the demographic it was trying to target.

      • Most people typically watch movies because 1. They either look good or 2. There are people both behind and in front of the camera that they typically enjoy the work of. So yes I am watching this for the cast and also the fantastic reviews it’s getting. It’s one of the better reviewed movies of the year so seems to be worth watching.

        As far as trashing Marti Noxon by brining up the worst project she has been involved with that’s just sad. The same can be done for any director or writer. Everyone has a bad movie or tv show that they were attached to. I am Number Four was a horrible pile of junk, but guess what else she has done a bunch of things that range from great to amazing. In no particular order:

        1. Buffy
        2. Mad Men
        3. Angel

        Generally considered by the majority of people including critics to be fantastic shows. She’s done several other shows that were big hits and well received.

        I could easily say what your watching something because of James Cameron ? Oh yea the guy who gave us Piranha Part Two: The Spawning oh yea his work on that was amazing lol.

        Steven Spieldberg ? Well where would the world be with out those crappy TV movies he made in the early 70s or even the newest Indiana Jones all those were real gems to the film industry.

        Please crawl back under the bridge you came from.

  11. nice review :) just wondering what rating you would have given the new conan.

  12. It was a fun movie. I also love how they sprinkled a bit of thriller and suspense.
    Marti Noxon is a GREAT screenplay writer when it comes to vampires and demons. She’s been a valuable asset to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, and you can tell she did a couple of nods to that show by having David Tennants character, call the kids “Scooby Gang” and also having the female character put up a good fight, much like what Buffy had done when she lost her slayer powers.
    I loved the movie because the quality of the film was well thought out. I will see this again! I saw this on Regular D, NOT 3D.

  13. I’m looking forward to seeing this. I saw the original films (yeah, part 1 and 2) and i’m just wondering how this would end because I just can’t forget how the climatic scene between Jerry the vampire and Charley was executed in the original film. It was definitely different from the “classics” that featured Christopher Lee (as Dracula) and Peter Cushing (as Dr. Van Helsing).

    Hope it won’t disappoint.

  14. Saw it and liked it, although the plotline is exactly the same, so you end up knowing what’s going to happen. :-(
    I actually liked David Tennant’s version of Peter Vincent better and he has a secret that you don’t learn until later…
    McLovin is flip, vulgar, and hilarious as usual. :-)
    4 stars

  15. I may see this just b/c I’m a huge David Tennant fan, and it’s rumored he would lead the sequel (should one happen).

  16. pretty good remake which can’t be said for most of the ones they keep putting out. do we really need remakes of movies that were crappy to begin with? prob just more crappy. david tennant was fantastic. i’m not a big fan of colin farrell, but his turn as jerry was pretty crazy.

  17. I felt it was a pretty good movie; I still prefer the original. The theater I saw it in had crappy 3D effects; maybe I had defective glasses or something. Since I had only seen Tennant in Dr. Who, it was strange hearing him use profanity, but his Peter Vincent was better (more rock-star like). I would give it 3/5.

  18. Just saw this movie yesterday and I thought that it was great from beginning to end. I would have given this movie a solid 4-4.5 rating because there really was nothing wrong with it for what it was. Definitely a surprise for me and a great movie to end the summer with. Also have to say that COllin Farrell did a fantastic job on this and really nailed the part down.
    My only issue may have been with the casting of McLovin from Superbad….just didn’t really seem to fit to me

  19. So According to BoxOfficeMojo The FRIGHT NIGHT remake had a bloodbath (meaning bad, very bad ) take opening weekend as did CONAN. While it sounds like the disappointing ticket sales for CONAN is no surprise the low take on FRIGHT NIGHT is surprising.

    So then how does the reality of the ticket sales or lack thereof for FRIGHT NIGHT relate to the review? Was the review wrong in comparison to the majority of the movie going audience? I say no. Even though Vic would have given it a half star less that still would put it at 3 out of 5 stars which ain’t that bad however the ticket sales indicates a 1 or at best 2 star film. Why then the difference?

    Answer: Its The economy; the real economy and not the “we’re in a recovery now” line of Bull the media has been selling for the last 1 – 2 years.

    I say the serious hit on the economy, the real hit, is finally starting to take its toll on theatrical releases. Even though films like THE HELP did well as others like RISE OF THE APES, the poor opening weekend for FRIGHT NIGHT, 8.1 Mill per BoxOfficeMojo, is a red flag that people don’t have the spending cash they used.

    I’d like to see a ScreenRant piece on this that goes over the current economic crisis and what impact its having and may have on the future of the movie industry. This summer seemed to me like a poor performer over all. Next Summer does promise to deliver some serious heavy weights with the AVENGERS film and the Dark Knight Rises but what about the Summer after that? Due to the time lines of films from pre-production to opening weekend, one does not see the effects on the economy as it relates to movie release until a year or more later. I may be wrong but I bet the plans right now in Hollywood are for less big budget films post SUMMER 2012.

    With its inside connections I’d love to read ScreenRants take on this, would anyone else?

    • Blue collar

      I have to disagree I don’t think it’s an issue of economy at all. There are several and I mean several reason why these movies did poorly none of which IMO have anything to do with the Economy.

      The originals were not huge hits in the first place they are remakes of cult classics and small ones at that. So they don’t have a huge fan base to start off then you factor in the hardcore annoying fans who refuse to see it simply because they didn’t think there should be a remake.

      Advertising was really poor for both films especially Fright Night. It was a bad ad campaign really bad in fact.

      Both films were given a bad release date again especially Fright Night. It not only should of been out closer to Halloween, but it shouldn’t of been released surrounded by films like Conan, Smurfs , Rise of the planet of the apes and other big studio films. It really hurt Fright Night just the wrong time to release it.

      Conan according to alot of viewers and nearly all critics sucked. It doesn’t help that the ads didn’t have people foaming at the mouth to see it. Most had no interest and those who had some didn’t really have a lot. The general feeling for conan was “It might be ok i may watch it some time” or “This looks like crap i’ll skip it”.

      If the Economy was the major issue Harry potter wouldn’t of had it’s biggest movie yet by miles and miles. transformers 3 wouldn’t of performed right in line with the first two. Lower titles like Captain America and Thor wouldn’t of been moderate hits and instead just flops. Smurfs wouldn’t of been a surprise hit.

      The Economy hasn’t really hurt the film industry because these two films didn’t do well. It’s simply bad release dates, unwanted remakes of not popular films, poor ad campaigns, Sub par quality, and just a general lack of interest in either film.

    • Then HollyWEIRD shoyld stop with these lame,worthless,pointless,sorry a** remakes!! There is ZIP of originality left in that screwed up industry anymore oh and by the way can I NEVER again see a movie where the nerdy but kind of cute and supposedly ‘charming’ boy snag the hottest girl?!! Is it TOO much to ask that a good looking boy be the lead for once and his galpal hook-up would actually make some damn sense!! And how old is Toni she looks waaaaay too young to be his mom while 68 year-olds are playing boyfriends to 30 year olds stay classy Hollyweirdos.

      • Pollypureheart

        Are you serious? Yes geeky guy hooking up with a hot chick is cliche sure, but there are millions of films where the so called attractive guy gets the girl every single year and there are far more of them. Have you never seen a Mathew Machanay movie or a Josh Duechesll or what ever his name is? How about Ryan Reynolds movies he just did The Proposal for crying out loud.

  20. I saw the movie and it was one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. Even my mom enjoyed it and she doesn’t like any of the movies I pick!

  21. LOVED this movie. Had a blast. Imogen Poots was great. Collin Farrell was really awesome. And David Tennant was HILARIOUS! Everyone I saw this with had a great time. I’m sad to hear this film isn’t doing better box office!

  22. I respect this movie because it was what it promised to be: a “jump-out-at-you” type scary, funny and fun. Like the original, it doesn’t try to be anything more then that. The 3D effects are terrific (quite frankly, the film really isn’t worth seeing without them), but I guess the only criticism I have is why they bothered with a remake when the first Fright Night back in the 80′s already did what this one does, only better?

  23. This movie was outstanding.
    Finally a film I didn’t feel horrible about spending $12 to watch!
    Such a great balance of ooey gooey horror gore, fun, and real emotion -as real as it can get without
    distorting the genre.

    And the music!
    Music was amazing.

    The minute it was over I wanted to call up different friends and see it again.

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