MovieMantz Review: ‘Fright Night’

A Fun ‘Night’

“Fright Night”
Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant
Directed by Craig Gillespie

Thanks to movies like “Twilight” and TV shows like “True Blood,” vampires are all the rage these days. Then again, they always have been, but one beloved film that fans always seem to go back to is the original “Fright Night” from 1985.

That’s because the cult classic had a revisionist tongue-in-cheek attitude that made it refreshing, since it was clever and funny while still fitting the bill as an outstanding horror movie.

In the film, which was written and directed by Tom Holland, William Ragsdale played a horror buff who was firmly convinced that his charming new next-door neighbor, played by Chris Sarandon, was in fact a blood-sucking creature of the night. No one believed him, so he had to convince a washed-up B-movie “vampire killer” named Peter Vincent (played by the great Roddy McDowell) to help him drive a stake through his heart.

Though the remake doesn’t feel as fresh as the original film, it’s still just as entertaining, but for different reasons. Written by Marti Noxon (TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”), “Fright Night” retains the balance of humor and suspense that defined the 1985 version, but it does so with 3-D effects that are (for once) worth the price of admission, since they replicate the same in-your-face thrills that made the cheesy 3-D movies from yesteryear so much fun.

Instead of a small town in Iowa, the new “Fright Night” takes place in Las Vegas, where Peter Vincent passes his time as a jaded vampire expert and illusionist for a gaudy live stage show. David Tennant (TV’s “Doctor Who”) is hilarious and practically steals the movie as Vincent, since he plays him like a self-absorbed lush who – perhaps intentionally – bears a striking resemblance to Russell Brand.

Colin Farrell also seems to be having a blast as the sensual vampire next door, while Anton Yelchin gives a strong performance as his suspicious neighbor. The supporting cast members are also game for the fun, including Toni Collette (“The Sixth Sense”) as Charlie’s mother, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Superbad”) as Charlie’s best friend and Imogen Poots as Charlie’s girlfriend (and the object of Farrell’s affection).

From a structural standpoint, “Fright Night” has a slightly disjointed pace, and it doesn’t build up the tension as well as the original film. But it’s still a lot of fun, and it’s brimming with confidence, so it works extremely well on its own terms. And if nothing else, “Fright Night” proves that when it comes to entertaining and worthy movies about vampires, there’s still plenty of room left in the cinematic coffin.

Verdict: SEE IT!

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