A surprisingly good vampire movie at a time when even barely decent vampire movies are rare, Craig Gillespie’s Fright Night manages to remake the 1985 original effectively, while being very much its own film in the bargain. I was never much of a fan of the original. It might have been different if I’d seen it when I was 12 and not when I was 30. Who knows? I simply thought it was OK with a few clever moments and better than average performances. But it made enough of an impression on me that I remember it with surprising clarity, and I’d say the remake is easily as good and possibly a little better. The new film retains the basic set-up of teenager Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) discovering that his new next door neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell), is a vampire. It also keeps most of the same characters, albeit often significantly altered, and more or less follows the structure of the first film. But there are enough changes — intelligent ones — to keep this one from feeling like a stale retread. Farrell’s vampire isn’t very much like Chris Sarandon’s 1985 bloodsucker. His creature of the night is much less concerned with being the charming new neighbor and makes only the most perfunctory attempt at keeping his vampire status secret, which works in the context of the film’s notions of the vampire as a sociopathic serial killer. Bottom line for me is that this Fright Night is fun. It’s scary enough and funny enough and clever enough to qualify for a good time at the movies. I was hoping for nothing more and expecting considerably less.
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Tom Holland and Marti Noxon
Producer: Michael DeLuca and Alison Rosenzweig
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots and Toni Collette