The original Fright Night was released in 1985 and told the tale of a teenage boy (Charley) who has the misfortune to witness one of his neighbours getting up to vampire stuff (you know, biting necks and killing people).
Knowing that the vampire knows that he knows that he’s a vampire (if that makes sense) Charley has no choice but to take the battle to Jerry (the neck biter) before he, his friends and his family are bitten and turned, or worse still, just eaten.
And that’s just about where the similarities between the 1985 and the 2011 version end. 80’s cheese has been replaced with dry wit, a mediocre cast has been upgraded to seasoned pros and dodgy fangs and makeup are superseded by fantastic CGI in, you guessed it – 3D!
Just about everyone in the Las Vegas suburb readily accepts Jerry to the neighbourhood, but when Charley’s friend Eddie provides evidence of Jerry’s dark side things quickly unravel and Charley soon has to defend himself, his mother and his girlfriend from Jerry and his cohorts.
Charley’s cries for help are ignored by most, but thankfully he finds an ally in Peter Vincent (David Tennant) who stars in a cheesy vampire act on the Las Vegas strip. Thankfully his knowledge is of some use and the pair soon find themselves in an almighty battle against the forces of darkness.
Fright Night is a wild ride. It’s fun, it’s filled with blood and explosions and there are also comedic moments which are used to lighten things a tad, keeping it more on the side of ‘entertaining’ than ‘terrifying’.
The roles are generally speaking, well allocated. Farrell is a curious yet entertaining choice for Jerry, and makes the role his own while Yelchin as Charley, Imogen Poots as Amy and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin himself) all give top notch performances to make the whole ‘vampire movie doused with blood and a dash of light humour’ thing work.
However, (Doctor Who fans take a deep breath) one weak element in Fright Night is David Tennant.
For the first half of his performance it’s ‘David Tennant impersonating Russell Brand’, and for the second half it’s ‘David Tennant impersonating, well, David Tennant’.
It’s the sort of performance that would be acceptable for network television, but feels odd on the big screen, and although his involvement doesn’t take much away from the film but it doesn’t really add anything either. There’s a whole bunch of actors out there that could undoubtedly have given something more the role and in turn, the film.
Also, Fright Night doesn’t exactly do anything new for the vampire genre. We’re talking about the usual sexy, seductive vampires, who are easily stopped with crosses, garlic and holy water. Although this stays true to the traditions of Fright Night V1, it seems a little old fashioned and unimaginitive nowadays with lots of current producers looking to re-invent the vampire in an effort to keep things interesting.
All that said, Fright Night IS fun. When the action heats up David Tennant’s weaknesses fade behind exploding chests, brains and buildings.
It doesn’t set out to terrify and disturb, but it does look to entertain, and entertain it does, in a good old fashioned, unoffensive kind of way.
If you don’t take it too seriously, you’re likely to find Fright Night quite enjoyable.