Back when I was a wee lad and the only way to see movies after they left theatres was cable or your VCR, I stumbled across the film Fright Night. It was a bit cheesy, but it was a lot of fun, and I had enjoyed Roddy McDowell ever since I first saw him in Planet of the Apes. It was a film I was deeply fond of, and so I approached word of a remake with great trepidation. Thankfully this movie is at least as good, if not better, than the original.
The story follows Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin who, thankfully, has the good sense to take off his shirt at one point), a high school senior living in Las Vegas who tries to forget his former friendship with a boy named Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Ed is convinced that a vampire (Colin Farrell), has moved in next to Charlie, and the disappearance of their mutual friend Adam has pushed him to the point where he’s nearly in a panic. Charlie initially blows him off, as he’s far more interested in hanging out with his “cool” friends and being around his girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots). Then Ed disappears, and Charlie starts to wonder what’s really going on.
I liked this film a lot more than I expected to. Farrell does an excellent job playing Jerry the vampire. He plays as someone who is just a bit “off”, almost like your basic movie serial killer, which technically is what he is. Mintz-Plasse also does a good job with what he’s given, though I wish he’d had a bit more screentime as, frankly, his portrayal of the character isn’t as memorable as that of Stephen Geoffreys (who later turned to doing gay porn. No, really!).
The real star of the show, however, and the one who steals the screen every moment he’s on, is David Tennant (who, yes, fanboys and girls, goes shirtless for large parts of the movie), playing the McDowell role of Peter Vincent. Now instead of being a washed-up actor, he’s a Las Vegas stage magician who pushes a vaguely Criss Angel image. He hams it up considerably, and does a good job of breaking away from his image as the Doctor. Rumor has it that his character is going to be spun-off into his own movie. I really hope that’s the case.
The movie doesn’t bring much that’s new to vampire lore, aside from making the vampires non-sparkly and restoring all the old weaknesses that modern movies seem to want to gloss over. It does occasionally dip into cliche, but it executes the cliches well, and I’ll say this: I’ll never look at a Century 21 sign the same again.
Ultimately this film stands well on its own and is a very good way to end the summer blockbuster season. One last note: this is a physically dark film, with most of the action taking place in dark rooms or at night. Do not see it in 3-D if you actually want to see the movie.