Fright Night (2011)
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Written by: Marti Noxon, Tom Holland
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette
Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette
The Hughes Verdict
When I sat down to watch this Fright Night mark II, like with many re-makes of present there was an air of guilt around my body, a feeling that I have come quite accustomed to over recent years. Like Halloween, Friday 13th, Freddy and countless others, here I was sitting down to watch a new version of characters who I love, a storyline that I adored and a film which I cherished with all my heart when I was growing up. Like always I felt like a husband all set to embark on an illicit affair, all set to cheat even though I did not really want too. So I ask myself the question why? If I love the original so much then why do I have the need to seek out the new shiny version that has just hit the market? Why put myself through it considering I been here before especially when its me that always gets hurt?
Having felt a rage that I have never encountered before with Zombie’s Halloween and then seeing it repeated for many others, this remake lark is now the norm in the horror genre. I do not even bother getting excited anymore because with all the ones that have been released over the years there are only one or two that have done the justice service. Fright Night arrives under the impression that the 1985 film is not in the same bracket of the Freddy and Jason’s of the worlds, where the fan base is relatively low to the films of those nature. While that may be true, the original Fright Night is held in high esteem by the older fans of horror. People seem to have forgotten that the film was a massive success in 85, winning critical acclaim and loads of horror awards and only a poor executed sequel probably stopped the films from becoming a well branded franchise at the box office.
Looking at all the re-makes over recent years I could see that Fright Night was the one that did make sense in doing. Hardly a known name for the new generation of horror fans, the concept was ripe for a revisit, especially with the similar non-horror Disturbia making so much money at the box office. I remember sitting in the cinema and watching Disturbia and thinking how much it reminded me of Fright Night and it seems that some bigwig in the studio had the same idea.
I have to tale my hat off to the makers for also giving the older fan a cast to actually die for. Anton Yelchin takes over from William Ragsdale in the role of teenager Charley Brewster, the vamp itself Jerry Danridge which was played with relish by Chris Sarandon is now played by Colin Farrell while the role of Peter Vincent which has become iconic thanks to the performance of Roddy McDowall has been given to David Tennant, a role that is supposed to be the breakthrough for the former Doctor Who! The rest of the sub characters are still an eye opener with Toni Collette playing mum Jane Brewster, Imogen Potts taking over the role of Charley’s girlfriend Amy and the other most important role of best friend Ed going to Christopher Mintz-Plasse. So you can see how intriguing thie whole film is, why I sat down and thought maybe just maybe, this remake will be worth the feeling of deja vue and something I can actually rave about!
Sadly though, once again I was badly wrong!
Fright Night 2011 differs from the original storyline with alarming consequences even though the thrust of the storyline stays the same. Charley thinks that his new neighbour is a Vampire and needs help to prove it before he gets either bitten and turned forever or killed. That is the core central premise but the remake changes the plot from how we get to the final battle between good and evil. First we start with a rather clever scene that will fool all the old fans. Its virtually a shot to shot opening minute of the original that turns into something else that was brilliantly done and actually shocked me. In fact the first twenty minutes serves the film well, we get an opening shock, the introduction of the characters is well done and things really boded well, until of course we get to the first change and one that may well piss off all Fright Night fans.
Ed is no longer best friends with Charley! The reasons being is that Charley is now too cool to seen with his weird and geek old friend, a scene that results in this new version Ed uttering the infamous words “You so Cool Brewster!” which will delight many fans. The trouble is and the first sign that all is not going to be right with this film is that its Ed himself that tells Charley that his new neighbour Jerry is a vampire. This rocked me because the fun of the original is seeing Charley running around telling everyone what he thinks and with no one believing him. With one full swoop we see the “fun” factor swept away from this redo, and it gets worse. The treatment of the character of Ed is appalling because I am telling you now fans he appears in about three scenes and its so frustrating that an actor like Mintz-Plasse is wasted in the role that had more meat to the bone from what I remember. Its this moment of the film and its right in the first half hour that you can not help but feel the whole set up is being rushed, there is a stunning pace to the film that may delight the young audience but when you see Ed being chased by the evil Jerry in the first 30 minutes even though its not been established to the viewer that Jerry is in fact a vampire, you will see that the plan here is not for character development or for teasing the viewer, just a simple film, where Charley needs to kill Jerry!
This logic sadly does not work because we get none of the scenes where Charley looks out of the window every night to spy on his new neighbour. The lack of “Rear Window” style imagery goes totally against what the original was all about and in fact its Jerry who comes looking for Charley. There is no hiding or denial from this Jerry Danbridge, he is quite happy to go around killing anyone in sight, there is no mystery or suspense with this character and while I can not fault Farrell with the performance, simply because Farrell playing a vamp is a great thing, the character is now straight and evil which means even when Charley tells his mother and girlfriend that he believes that he is a vampire, there is no build up for the scene where Charley is proved right, because as soon as he tells them, Jerry is trying to kill them all. Of course its all to do with the pace again and you can not help but realise that making Fright Night 2011 a rollercoaster where chase scene follows chase scene, this logic means the film loses the heart that made the original stand out from the crowd!
The interesting aspect of the remake is the character that does not appear until nearly an hour into the film and that is of course the all new Peter Vincent, a character that is sooooooooo important to the film.
In the original, Peter Vincent was a fading horror actor famous for vampire slaying in films and now an aging late-night horror host of a cheap weekend horror show called Fright Night that showed old corny films. He was a dying breed, someone trying hard to grasp onto the last straws of films and he was an homage to the likes of Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, hence the name! It was a wonderful creation in 80’s cinema, simply because he was an hark back to days of Hammer Horror and McDowall nailed the role so much that its very much loved with all horror fans. Here we had a character who is infamous for being the best Vampire Slayer, who does not believe in Vampires who then has to live the role in real life to save people he hardly does not know. It was a brilliant creation and one that I love ever so much, especially when you see a man who sees the very things that he kills in fiction alive and well and how he grows from a nervous wreck into the guy he has played all his life. Fantastic!
Peter Vincent 2011 is played by David Tennant no stranger for playing an iconic role after his stint in the Doctor Who role! Here the role is changed to a famous illusionist with his own show on the Vegas Strip. He is young and brass, with the F word being used in nearly every sentence, he is very in your face and at once you do not get the feel you had with the McDowall version. There is nothing wrong with Tennant even though at times he seems to be still playing the Doctor he does a decent job even though like Ed he lacks the depth to make an impact. Its not the fault of Tennant that his portrayal will be forgotten because its the way the character is written here, but he gets none of the scenes that he probably would have wished for. There is no “broken mirror” scene, no “Stake in the Wolf” scene, and the infamous “Welcome to Fright Night for Real!” line is lost with no real impact because you do not associate that name as important to the character in this! Also and be warned readers, because its a remake we also get a terrible back story involving Peter which will make every fan cry long into the night! Its needless and stupid and one you will want to forget!
There are some good moments, there is one surreal scene in which Charley tries to help a girl and is left with a stunning twist that left me in awe Eagle eye viewers will spot the custom remake cameo and this is from Chris Sarandon as a passing motorist. Sarandon of course played the original Jerry Dandridge and its good to see.
But that is it really. Fright Night 2011 tries hard to change the concept but then sells out for the finale by going back into the story line from the original film. Its like the a muddled affair in which the makers did not have the faith that the original will serve well with the modern audience but also know that by doing too many changes they will alienate the 1985 fan base. So what we have is a mixed film struggling with its own identity. Its not great but its not awful, the saving point being Farrell who really is having a ball in the bad guy role. The awful CGI is one you can not ignore, and the climax offers hardly no thrills or spills and I even had the thought “Is that it!” ringing through my brain.
For newcomers, Fright Night 2011 may well serve as a perfect Friday night date flick, its not boring and passes the time away quite nicely, but if you hold the original withn a cherished heart love like many of the old generation do, then be warned because its another re-make that will leave you frustrated and annoyed and there is no way you be chucking away your old copy and putting this in its place because while this redo is all slick and shiny with a stellar cast, it lacks the heart beat of what made the the 1985 version tick, and with no heart you are left with a cold lifeless body, something like a vampire…………
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THIS WEEKS HCF SPECIAL ON FRIGHT NIGHT THE ORIGINAL AND ITS SEQUEL!
[pt-filmtitle]Fright Night (2011)[/pt-filmtitle]