Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 30 -- Remake Done Right: A Review of "Fright Night (2011)"

Since the original 1985 version of Fright Night has been one of my favorite horror movies since I was in elementary school, I was nervous about the 2011 remake, despite a solid cast (Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Toni Collette) and a script from former Buffy scribe Marti Noxon. But as I mentioned in my list of horror remakes that justified their own existence, it managed to be just as enjoyable as the original.

The 2011 shares the same general plot as the original:  high schooler Charley Brewster discovers that his neighbor Jerry is a vampire.  Charley tries to enlist help from entertainer/occult expert Peter Vincent, but Vincent turns out to have feet of clay.  Vampire Jerry turns Charley's friend "Evil" Ed and sends him after Charley, and then abducts Charley's girlfriend in order to turn her into his bride, forcing Charley to confront Jerry in his own lair. 

But within this plot, the filmmakers made numerous tweaks to keep it from feeling like a rehash.  Perhaps the most significant was the reimagining of Peter Vincent from an over the hill horror show host who doesn't really believe in what he's selling into a David Blaine-esque Las Vegas stage magician with a massive collection of occult items; in the remake, Vincent isn't so much a charlatan as he is a coward, albeit with good reason.  The remake also propels the plot forward more quickly than the original did, having "Evil" and Charley be more proactive in their hunt, and Jerry much less patient in maintaining his charade. All of these changes help bring them film into the 21st Century; it feels very much like a modern film, and not an 80s throwback.  Throw in some witty dialogue and some well constructed action scenes, and you have a remake that pays homage to the original but still manages to blaze its own trail.  I loved the 2011 Fright Night both times I've watched it, and would recommend it readily to anyone with a taste for a fun and funny vampire action flick.

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