Fright Night is a film that doesn’t waste any time. Right at the opening we get a great scene to set the tone of the film, and then the rest of the movie just sort of follows through. Every bit of clichéd build up is taken care of in the first act of the film so that the second and third acts can just get down to business and do its thing. And it has a lot of fun doing its thing.
I, sadly, have not seen the original film, though it is a film I am aware of. I’ve been meaning to see it, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Seeing the trailer to this remake, I kind of knew what I was going in for: a sort of campy, wears-what-it-is-on-its-sleeve, fun vampire flick. And for the most part, it’s exactly that. It knows what it is and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it never allows itself to be too much of a joke either. And I think the movie benefits a lot from that.
All the actors are great. I’ve been a fan of Anton Yelchin ever since I saw him in Charlie Bartlett and Alpha Dog. He also showed that he has not only great talent, but also a wide range when he played in both Terminator: Salvation and Star Trek in the same year—two completely different roles and far off from what he did in Charlie Bartlett, as well. In Fright Night, he’s just as good as he was in Star Trek, bringing out every emotion perfectly when needed. His character, Charlie, has quite a bit of emotions to bring out, and he does so flawlessly.
All the others pull their weight, as well. Collin Farrell is fantastic as Jerry the Vampire. He always seems to be ahead of Charlie and just seems to enjoy toying with him, whether it be just strolling through the house pretending not to know he’s there or ambushing him nonchalantly. His delivery of lines is perfect for the tone of the film. If it were emphasized any more, it probably would have been too campy, but he restrains himself just enough.
The rest of the supporting cast is great. Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Evil Eddy is fantastic and played out just enough to where he doesn’t get old. Toni Collette as Charlie’s mom is great. Imogen Poots as Charlie’s girlfriend, Amy, really does well playing off of Charlie and brining out some good emotions when necessary, especially right when the third act starts. And David Tennant is brilliant as Peter Vincent, the vampire “expert”.
The story is straightforward enough. Charlie’s neighbor’s a vampire; he finds out; and he has to kill him. It’s simple, and it works. The movie does a great job at getting all the annoying crap in these types of films out of the way very quickly. All the trying to prove what he is and convincing the right people to believe him are done incredibly fast so that they can just get down to brass tax and go to some survival horror and vampire fighting.
This is not to say that the first act is boring, not at all. It just covers the “been there, done that” bits really quickly so that it doesn’t bore you. Mixed in with all that are some great, nail-biting tension. One scene involving sneaking in and out of Jerry the Vampire’s house is particularly effective. And what I really liked was the movie doesn’t really try to hide the fact that Jerry is a vampire. It’s like it knows the audience already knows, so why bother trying to hide it? It’s perfect.
When it gets down to some vampire killing, it’s fun as hell. The set pieces are bloody, and there’s enough humor mixed in with the action and tension to keep you involved. Each scene’s got some emotional weight to them, as well. When things are going down, I was rooting for Charlie. I want him to pull through. The film actually feels like a horror movie. When things are overwhelming, I am genuinely nervous for Charlie. For a remake of a campy vampire flick, Fright Night’s got quite a bit of heart to it.
Fright Night still has some flaws. The special effects aren’t pristine, but they are fine. The only things I didn’t like about the special effects are the obvious 3D moments. I saw it in regular 35mm, not 3D, but I could still tell when something was supposed to be jumping out at me—which I found a little distracting. The whole reason I didn’t see it in 3D was to avoid seeing things jumping out at me and distracting me from the film. It’s not a big enough complaint for me not to look past it, but it’s still worth mentioning.
I think that a lot of people are just going to shrug this movie off as another cash-grab remake or as plain, old silliness. It’s understandable why some may see it as a cash grab, but the makers of this film didn’t make it just for the money. They put their all into it, and it shows. As for silliness, yeah, it is pretty silly. But it has fun with it.
If you can look past the fact that we’ve had a slew of vampire movies (Let the Right One In), remakes of vampire movies (Let Me In), vampire “spoof” movies (Vampires Suck), and just plain crap with vampires thrown in for the hell of it (The Twilight Saga), then Fright Night is a great return to the classic days of horror. It’s a very solid film that doesn’t sacrifice its acting or overall quality just to have a good time. It’s a film you can have fun with, not just laugh at. Highly recommended.