Fright Night review

I'll probably be howled down for saying this, but the original Fright Night is not the best vampire film ever made. Back in 1985, it was a decent enough drive-in movie, but that's about all it was – a good Friday-night popcorn flick, to be forgotten about by Saturday morning. And as Hollywood continues to stripmine its past to come up with “fresh” entertainment for the teens who make up the bulk of the multiplex audience, Fright Night is actually one of those films that's ripe for a remake.

The first time around, Fright Night was an antidote for the '80s slasher film trend. The remake, though, comes along at a time when vampires have never been more popular – witness True Blood on TV, and the Twilight Saga in the cinemas. Or, for real vampire aficionados, Let The Right One In. The storyline is much the same: Yelchin is Charley Brewster (played by William Ragsdale in the original), a suburban teen in Las Vegas. He thinks new next-door neighbour Jerry (Farrell) is a vampire, but nobody believes him – not girlfriend Amy (Poots), nor mum Jane (Collette). He does convince geeky former friend Ed (Mintz-Plasse), who unwittingly becomes one of Jerry's victims. So Charley enlists the reluctant help of Vegas “magician” and occult expert Peter Vincent (Tennant) to battle the undead monster before the town is overrun with vampires.

Like the original, this Fright Night is a horror comedy, but it goes much heavier on both the laughs and the gore. And that's a good thing; for my money, it's a better film – a rare thing among remakes. Roddy McDowell was the standout star of the first Fright Night, but in that one, Peter Vincent was a washed-up old actor hosting horror films on late-night TV. The remake sees Tenant swanning about in skin-tight leather trousers and a long-haired wig, channelling Russell Brand for all he's worth. But Tennant doesn't have to do it all alone; the rest of the cast provides stellar support, from Yelchin through to Farrell, who oozes charm and sexuality as the bloodsucker next door. Another surprise is the 3D – it's terrifically effective, particularly for the scenes of vampire destruction. There's a definite Buffy the Vampire Slayer influence running through Fright Night, which is understandable when you consider that the screenplay was written by Buffy stalwart Noxon.

Forget that it's a remake, and just sit back and enjoy this sharp, clever update. It's fast, funny, bloody and hugely entertaining. This Fright Night has plenty of bite, and it doesn't suck in the slightest.

Official Site
Fright Night at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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