Fright Night [3D] is a comedy-horror movie remake of Tom Holland's 1985 cult classic. You know the VHS rental cover that used to scare you at the video store as a kid, the one with the massive vampire face laughing over a haunted mansion. Well, there weren't many big name actors in that, but now that the remake boasts 3D technology and a cast including: Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, David Tennant, Tony Collette and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, you could say that a remake was almost necessary.
To remake or not to remake is the question, but most remakes aren't a restoration as much as they're a second spin on the money-go-round. The new Fright Night is no exception, taking the recent splurge of '80s horror remakes and turning it into a trend. The movie may not be where director, Craig Gillespie, saw himself after directing commercials for 16 years and then unleashing his first feature film, Lars and the Real Girl, but even directors have to eat, which explains his second film, Mr. Woodcock.
Thankfully Gillespie and the crew of filmmakers are old enough to remember seeing the original Fright Night with much glee. They've channeled this nostalgia into the new version, retaining a good balance of comedy, horror and enough thrills to keep the audience on edge. In many ways, the new Fright Night is superior. It may not have the novelty working for it, but its taken the wooden stake and run with it - delivering on performance, experience and entertainment value.
Colin Farrell is devastatingly good as Jerry, the macho, mysterious, new neighbour. Farrell is a Hollywood bad boy in real-life, making it really easy to bridge the transition to "thing that goes bump in the night". His dark countenance and even the word "countenance" give him license to thrill and owns the performance by being dead and loving every minute of it. Anton Yelchin is one of three new generation actors, who just can't put a foot wrong. Besides Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Cera, he's one of the golden boys - making every performance weighted, likable and consistent... arguably a little too consistent for some.
The supporting cast is made up of David Tennant in one of the funnier performances of the film as Las Vegas magician and vampire hunter, Peter Vincent. He's every bit as funny as Toby Kebbell's Drake Stone in The Sorceror's Apprentice and more... sending up performance art magicians and the occult with a dry, whimsical "Ghostbusters" performance. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is just Christopher Mintz-Plasse, the way we love him, and Toni Collette rounds off the name stars with a "dry" performance of her own, as Charley's mom. Gorgeous newcomer, Imogen Poots, features alongside Yelchin as his romantic interest and does well to complement Charley as the doting girlfriend and high school sweetheart.
The 3D experience adds to the film, giving it an immersive quality without taking away from the scares, making Fright Night a great choice for Halloween. The CGI is convincing and is used sparingly, avoiding the dated animatronics of the '80s or overreaching the CGI in creating the remake. The Fright Night remake is slick and brings the story up-to-speed with special effects and a modern finish to connect the 25-year plus lapse in time.
The entertainment value is found in the new levels to the story, which in its simplest form can be summed up as "a kid thinks his neighbour's a vampire". The comedy is crisp and fresh, the scares aren't cheap and the pacing is good enough to steadily build the horror from 0 to 10 without losing the audience. It's the sort of popcorn-spilling mix of entertainment that makes the laughs more satisfying and the thrills more unexpected - what movie night is all about.
In many ways, a companion piece to Disturbia - the Rear Window-inspired thriller, Fright Night [3D] packs a punch, meets and surpasses expectations for an '80s horror remake. The tongue-in-cheek vampire comedy balances out against the blood-curdling suspense, making this a well-weighted horror comedy reminiscent of Shaun of the Dead - backed by good writing and a rock solid cast with stand out performances.
The bottom line: Entertaining.