Fright Night (2011) is a remake of the 1985 comedy/horror classic of the same name. The general premise is this – A teenager (Charlie Brewster) suspects that his new neighbour (Jerry Dandridge) is a vampire and goes about attempting to prove it with the help of his friends (Amy & Evil Ed) and a phony vampire hunter (Peter Vincent) from one of his favourite TV shows helps too. I consider myself someone who isn’t a fan of remakes, reboots and so on; this is unless it’s completely necessary of course. When I heard that they were remaking Fright Night I was not a happy bunny and decided not to see it on the big screen as a stand against remakes and I’m not the biggest Colin Farrell fan. The issue I have with remakes of this kind is that Fright Night is a 80s movie! You just can’t recreate the magic of 80s movies and changing it up and making it modern day completely ruins the feel and tones of the movie in my opinion. Its like remaking The Lost Boys, everything about that movie is 80s; the clothes, hair, soundtrack, everything.
The reasons why I enjoyed Fright Night (2011) after viewing it for free on TV recently was because the writers did not attempt to do this. This movie is almost unrecognizable to the original, the only aspects that it keeps the same are the names of the characters and the overall plot is fairly similar but it’s delivered in a very different way all together. I really liked that unlike the original it is Ed (Not Evil Ed in this) who struggles to convince Charlie that his neighbour is a vampire and I think it makes much more sense than the other way around. Another thing I loved is that this is an old school vampire story with all the rules included! Jerry cannot enter the house uninvited, he’s afraid of crosses but only if you have faith of course & sunlight will make him explode into a blazing pile of ash.
In the original Jerry’s primary motive is Charlie’s girlfriend Amy who resembles his former wife so much that he’s convinced it’s her so he goes about attempting to capture her and make her his undead bride once more phew. This time around that motive is out the window and he’s just a psychotic, blood sucking, relentless, non-sympathetic animal and I love that. I love it when killers have no motive other than just being bastards, it’s refreshing.
One of my favourite scenes in the movie is the night after Charlie hears a girl scream from inside Jerry’s house he sneaks over in an attempt to rescue the girl and stumbles upon a secret corridor of rooms that later turns out to be a place where Jerry stores his victims so he can drain them over time. Anyway, although Jerry returns home and there are a few high tension moments where you think he’s about to find them Charlie and the girl make it out the front door. The moment they step onto the lawn into direct sunlight the girl bursts into flames in front of Charlie’s eyes and then we see Jerry who is laughing because he clearly did know that they were escaping but allowed it all to happen, its good stuff.
The movie even makes a few homages to the original with Ed throwing in a “oh you’re so cool Brewster” line which is easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. The one I love is every time somebody tries to tell another person that “Jerry” the vampire is living next door to Charlie they immediately mock the idea of a vampire being called “Jerry” and it’s highly amusing.
Charlie’s final hope is to track down Peter Vincent (David Tennant) who in this version is a Las Vegas, Criss Angel like magician and attempt to take down the vampire together. David Tennant is brilliant in this and it’s worth the watch for his performance alone, oh he’s no Roddy McDowell but he isn’t trying to be. I like that they give Peter Vincent a real motive in wanting to help Charlie but of course at first he declines.
Another cool change is that this time around Charlie’s mother believes him about Jerry and refuses to invite him into the house, Jerry reacts very violently to her decision and a few awesome scenes ensue. There are a number of brutal scenes and Jerry’s true vampire form is really well done, think 30 Days Of Night with a much larger shark like mouth.
After some further motivation Vincent agrees to help and we have our climax, does it go well? Unfortunately not, the ending is very anti-climactic and feels very unsatisfying. The film is by no means perfect, although I like him as an actor I just felt that Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Super Bad, Kick Ass, Role Models) just wasn’t the right fit for the character Ed. I loved the eccentricity of the originals Evil Ed and even though they changed the characters around I still missed it.
Fright Night (2011) is an example of how remakes should be, taking something old and modernizing it but not attempting to do the exact same thing. The character changes are well done and Colin Farrell does a good job of being the psychotic, creepy vampire next door. The films visuals and soundtrack are strong and I imagine it would have looked great in 3D as there are moments which were clearly shot for 3D. Tennant does a great job as Peter Vincent and I’ll certainly never look at him the same again. The original is still the superior of the two in my opinion, it’s drenched in 80s goodness, has amazing effects and manages to be scary as well as very funny at the same time. What kind of vampire is called Jerry anyway?
Fright Night - Remake