Fright Night (2011)
You can't run from evil when it lives next door.
People really like remaking old movies. This is a very dangerous line (remakes), as on the one hand you can draw people that loved the old one - but on the other, you risk being hated for every single thing you changed. It's been seen on numerous occasions - how people reacted to other movies such as the new Superman or Total Recall wasn't as positive as I'm sure the makers had hoped. Sometimes it feels as though it was just done to cash in on the name, and everything else was just tossed out the window. So, with a bit of trepidation I proceeded forth to watch this new Fright Night (not in 3D).
Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a normal high school senior with a relatively normal life. He has a beautiful girlfriend named Amy (Imogen Poots) and a stereotypical geeky friend named Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who he's been avoiding in an effort to look more cool - until Ed forces him to go to a missing friend's house. There, we discover that their missing friend and Ed have been watching Charley's new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) quite extensively, and found him to be a vampire. Of course, Charley thinks it's just ridiculous, and after having a bit of a spat the two go their separate ways - only Ed doesn't make it home that night.
Now faced with Ed's sudden disappearance, Charley becomes a bit more suspicious of his neighbor, and proof just starts to pile up in favor of Jerry being the humanoid blood-thirsty equivalent of Jaws . When enough evidence has arisen that Charley can no longer deny the fact, knowing full well how crazy it sounds, he turns to expert magician / vampire slayer Peter Vincent (David Tennant) for help. Things continue to escalate, and after an injured mother and a kidnapped girlfriend, Charley finds himself with no other choice but to stand up to Jerry mano-a-monster in a win or lose all fight to the death.
Those of you who have seen the original Fright Night might think this all sounds rather a bit familiar - and indeed, at some moments the details of the films are almost identical. Some things have been changed, mostly feeling more like an attempt to update the film and make it more relevant to the kids these days then those of us stuck in the 80's, an example of this is the role of Peter Vincent who is now a magician instead of a monster movie show-host. Generally, its all minor details up until the action really picks up - things get a bit different in happenings from the original at that point, and yet somehow it keeps it all in stride with the original enough that you don't feel they have done anything offensive to the one you may already be attached to (if your like me). In this sense, it fares far better than say, Superman or Total Recall in their most recent remake incarnations, as it still feels like the old one and has these very concrete moments that work like references to scenes. On the other hand, the flick is still perfectly enjoyable without having seen the first one, making it a stand alone experience more so than the likes of the most recent Star Trek films (which held more enjoyment for fans who already saw the others in my opinion).
It's safe to say, there is a lot of modern effects getting used here. Although it does get rid of some of the campy feel, it sometimes doesn't quite look right - one of those times when something is off and you just can't put your finger on it. They are still well done, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if I was told a lot of practical effects still exist, as plenty of moments exist where it looks just like it, but with the desire of 3D for this film (even watching it as a normal version, you can tell some moments were designed with that 3D in mind) I expect a decent mix between the two. Blood sprays and shark-mouth vampire mode in particular look to be heavy CG, whereas things like explosions or even getting out from under a car look feasibly realistic to not distance you too much. Comedy also exists within the effects, such as a scene when a realty sign is used to stab a vampire, and it ends up running around comically with this sign sticking up out if it like an advertisement.
Costumes on most the characters are pretty modern, with a few exceptions to the more extravagant Peter and the ready for war version of Charley at the end of the flick. Vampires are also not quite done as "normal" vampires we are used to over the years, looking normal for the most part and sporting the accustomed to set of fangs for a normal nibble, but when they are really hungry and angry they tend to get very pale with pointy ears, long pointy nails, and a row of teeth that would make most sharks jealous. It's a nice touch to differentiate it from the normal and make it feel a bit more unique, and is explained off in the movie by having them be a specific tribal type of vampires, helping add some depth of in-movie lore that some films wouldn't really bother with (such as why nobody in zombie movies set in modern times know what zombies are even though zombie flicks should have been everywhere for them to see).
Actors do a pretty darn good job of acting in this too. Charley is believable through the film in how he acts, even to the point of being so distracted by his neighbor being a demonic spawn of evil that it distracts him from a very tempting Amy trying to retain his attention at one point. There doesn't happen to be any real points that strike you as not being delivered well or understandable, and interactions between characters (specifically Peter and his lady) are at time comedy gold (even if in a pretty immature way). It's also to the benefit of the film that the audio comes across clean, even when action is going on all around and characters are getting pretty emotional. That being said, I don't recall any real stand out music set-pieces, which works well with what this movie set out to do in the first place.
By now, you all probably think I recommend a lot of movies, and in honesty I do for the most part feel that every movie is worth giving at least one shot (except anything made by Asylum , those are for very, very specific people who want to watch a crap film). In this case, as a fan of the original, I admit to still liking the first Fright Night more, but this was a very welcome update as well. For the folks out there who might think the original is too campy - to 80's if you will - then this is probably the one you'd rather watch. It still contains humor, and it has that spooky mystery feel that should entertain most it's watchers. So yeah, give it a shot, you might end up finding yourself believing that maybe not every remake out there is such a terrible thing after all.