The Cynical Optimist hates the new Fright Night


A remake of Tom Holland’s 1985 film, “Fright Night” stars Anton Yelchin (“Star Trek”) as teenager Charley Brewster, who suspects that his new neighbor Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell) is a ravenous vampire responsible for a string of recent deaths in town.

When Jerry targets Charley’s mother (Toni Collette) and girlfriend (Imogen Poots) as his next victims, Charley enlists Peter Vincent (David Tennant), a self-proclaimed vampire slayer and Las Vegas magician, to help him hunt down and destroy Jerry.

Directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”) and written by Marti Noxon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), “Fright Night” feels like “Disturbia” meets “Dark Shadows” — a suburban vampire melodrama that lacks the charms and chills of its predecessor.

Between “Interview with the Vampire,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “True Blood,” “Twilight,” “30 Days of Night,” “Vampire Diaries,” “Let The Right One In” (and it’s American remake, “Let Me In”) and the upcoming “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” do we really need a remake of “Fright Night”?

The answer, of course, is a resounding “Hell no!” — but of course no one in Hollywood is even asking that question, instead all they are concerned with is “What makes money?” The obvious answer is A) vampires and B) established franchises.

While I wouldn’t consider “Fright Night” a guaranteed license to print money, it’s easier to remake a sure thing than potentially lose money on an original idea — hence a 2011 release of “Fright Night” in 3D, filled with cheesy gimmicks and bad (awful, really) computer-generated blood splattering everywhere.

Marti Noxon’s script is filled with flat, lifeless teenage melodrama accented with the kind of stereotypical dialogue that sounds like it came from a Diablo Cody workshop on how to speak hipster. Anton Yelchin’s Charley Brewster is not the geeky, horror-obsessed outcast that William Ragsdale played in the ’85 original. There isn’t much to like about his character (or relate to) unless you’re a douchebag, in which case you might think he’s pretty cool.

This Charley Brewster is the kind of guy who sells out his best friend Ed (played by McLovin, or Christopher Charles Mintz-Plasse, as he’s also known) in order to fit in with the cool kids and get the stereotypical hot girl.

As for Tennant’s Peter Vincent, he’s a coward and a drunk, inspired more by Criss Angel than Vincent Price — nothing like the character Roddy McDowall (“Planet of the Apes”) helped create in the original. Come to think of it, this whole movie is filled with assholes.

You never really care about anyone. Charley’s a jerk, McLovin’ is as annoying and typecast as always (there’s a part where he engages in live-action role-playing like his character in “Role Models”) and then there’s the bitchy hot girl and the drunk washed-up magician.

Hell, by the end of the film you end up cheering for Colin Farrell’s character – at least the guy’s charming and threatening. And he’s actually doing us a favor by killing all the douchebags and assholes of the world, so that’s admirable. His brilliant, vicious performance is almost enough to drive this movie over into the decent category… almost.

Bottom Line: “Fright Night” is a derivative, unnecessary addition to pop culture’s current obsession with vampires. The film even goes so far as to reference “Twilight” in hopes that crazed Twi-hards will show up at cinemas just because there’s a pale guy with fangs on screen.

Seriously, are we going to remake every film ever? If studios see “Fright Night” as a viable option then what’s next? Perhaps “The ‘Burbs” starring Kevin James or maybe “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” starring the casts of “Glee” and “High School Musical” — there’s an idea.

Final Thoughts: The 3D in this movie is truly atrocious. First off, the image quality is so damn dark and blurry, I felt like I was watching it through night-vision goggles instead of 3D glasses – the entire movie looks like it’s shot at dusk (even during the daylight scenes).

Then there’s the gimmicks. As an audience member you will be assaulted with CGI blood flying at your face, along with crosses and stakes and all matter of silly gags used previously in “Friday the 13th Part III.” Even watching the film in standard 2D, you’ll be reminded that it was meant to be seen in 3D because of all the shit flying in your face.

Forget “Fright Night.” The only thing frightening about this half-assed remake is the fact that it was even made. If you need a Colin Farrell fix, go see “Horrible Bosses.” If you want to see a fine example of how to re-start a franchise, go see “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” instead.