Review – Fright Night

A remake for the 1991 film ‘Point Break’ was announced this week. Immediately, social networking sites were exploding with hate for the project before a single frame of film has been shot. The word remake has become a dirty word, as the Hollywood studios are struggling to recapture the magic of the originals for a new generation.

The problems with films in 2011 are that teenagers are growing up with Facebook and smartphones that can do practically everything. If a film like ‘Stand By Me’ was made in 2011, it would be pretty shithouse. The kids would download the “find a dead body” app and away they would go tweeting on the railroad tracks and sitting around a campfire updating their statuses – Geordie: “totes almost got run over bya train 2day #OMG #deadbodysearch”. In order for a remake to succeed, it needs to bring the characters and story into a contemporary setting and make it relevant.

The original ‘Fright Night’ spooked audiences in 1985 and was a love letter to old hammer horror films. More recently, vampires have had more in common with the Care Bears than Dracula, but the 2011 version of ‘Fright Night’ does everything the original did for the genre in a very entertaining way.

Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) lives in Las Vegas in a small neighbourhood just off the famous strip. After people start to go missing, he becomes suspicious that his new neighbour Jerry (Colin Farrell) may be a vampire. Worried for the safety of his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) and mother Jane (Toni Collette), Charley turns to local Vegas showman Vincent Price (David Tennant) for help in getting rid of the fanged menace.

‘Fright Night’ succeeds in taking vampires back to their bloodthirsty roots. Director Craig Gillespie gives the film a haunted house vibe throughout and there are good heart-pounding moments. When the action kicks in, it’s exciting and the monster mash ending is a lot of fun.

Every vampire flick should have a good amount of blood and ‘Fright Night’ has the right amount of splatter to keep fans happy. Computer effects and practical special effects are combined nicely to bring the vampires to life and make them scary and believable. Credit to the props department as well, who let their imaginations run wild with all the different weapons built to take down vampires, which adds to the fun of the vampire hunt that takes up a big chunk of the film’s second act.

Yelchin is very good playing a paranoid teenager and continues to be one of my favourite young actors. Farrell is charming and menacing, playing a vampire that has more in common with a shark than Edward Cullen, while Poots is perfect as the dream girlfriend. Tennant does justice to the role of Vincent Price, who is transformed into a Chris Angel-style magician for the update, and he revels in the performance. Tennant is robbed of a decent amount of screen time, but is dynamite in his scenes.

Being a remake, ‘Fright Night’ is missing some of the charm of the original and small parts of the plot get bogged down in excessive exposition.

A subtle touch of brilliance, however, is the score of Ramin Djawadi that haunts with organs and creepy violins.

‘Fright Night’ is a textbook example of a good remake that’s relevant in its modern setting. Fans of the original should not live in fear and just enjoy looking out for all the nods to the classic. Stake up and get ready for ‘Fright Night’.

3.5/5

‘Fright Night’ is now showing in Australian cinemas

Walt Disney Studios Australia and New Zealand

The Popcorn Junkie

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