FrightFest 2011: ‘Fright Night’ review


Craig Gillespie’s Fright Night (2011) follows the recent Hollywood fascination for re-imaginings with this remake of Tom Holland’s original 1985 cult favourite. Starring Colin Farrell as a libidinous vampire, David Tennant (best know to UK audiences as the former Doctor Who) and Anton Yelchin, this stereoscopic reboot attempts to add a little more bite to the originals lurid tale of suburban horror.

Those tired of the recent flurry of paranormal romances involving the brooding hunky vampires of recent teen fiction inspired movies should take note; Fright Night aims to take these mythological devils back to their malevolent roots, reminding audiences of exactly why vampires are not meant to be messed with!

Fright Night begins like your stereotypical high school tale of adolescent confusion, with Charley (Anton Yelchin), a once lowly geek who has miraculously managed to transcend the teenage social ladder and firmly positioned himself on the middle rung of popularity. He’s snared himself a stunningly beautiful girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots), in the process, who months ago would have been well out of his league.

Living with his recently divorced mother (Toni Collette) on an isolated strip of newly built properties, minutes away from the bright lights and seedy underbelly of Las Vegas, Charley’s life seems a picture of peaceful serenity until Jerry (Colin Farrell), a reclusive and mysterious stranger, moves into the house next door.

When a string of unexplained disappearances all seem to stem from Charley’s new, strangely nocturnal neighbour, he’s begrudgingly convinced by his nerdy ex-best friend, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), that this broody charmer is in fact a vampire. A series of sinister interactions between Charley and this dark foreboding creature of the night, (particularly his sinister interest in Charley’s ‘neglected’ mother and his young, nubile girlfriend) soon lead Charley to seek out the assistance of the flamboyant illusionist-cum-vampire hunter Peter Vincent (David Tennant) in order to protect those he loves from this embodiment of pure evil.

Fright Night wonderfully amalgamates a plethora of B-movie horror techniques with a delightful array of modern pop culture references which culminate in a sublimely enjoyable feast of cinematic escapism. Starting out like a run of the mill teenage buddy comedy before transferring the action to Jerry’s foreboding home and quickly becoming a bizarrely successful occult rendition of Rear Window (1954) before completely pulling the rug from under your feet and creating a tense action thriller with Farrell’s Jerry appearing more like a supernatural incarnation of Terminator 2: Judgement Day’s infamous, near indestructible T-1000 than the handsome gothic dreamboats of similar films.

Instead of perversely lurking in the shadows like most vampires, Jerry uses his superhuman powers to brutally hunt down our central protagonists; seemingly unafraid of Charley’s misguided attempts to deter him with archaic techniques gleamed from ludicrously camp Seventies horror movies. It all results in a film which never fails to keep the excitement levels high.

Fright Night’s choice of Las Vegas as its setting for this playful homage to eighties horror is ingenious. It’s a wonder no one else has ever made the most of this renowned nocturnal city of indulgence as the backdrop for a vampire film. It’s inviting yet sinister neon glow perfectly illuminates the sense of dread behind this intense but thoroughly exhilarating movie and only amplifies the seedy façade of Colin Farrell’s Jerry.

Undeniably, Colin Farrell’s cool and assured performance is what makes the film successful. His cocksure depiction of this vampiric incarnation of pure masculine virility is a joy to behold. Jerry’s mere presence on screen elevates the film from a simple horror parody into a highly enjoyable slice of entertainment. Managing to seem more terrifying as a sexual predator than a blood lusting beast, Farrell has used his philandering past to his advantage in successfully creating this genuinely sinister image of unequivocal evil – a seductively brilliant star turn.

It’s no surprise that during this recent cultural obsession with vampires that Fright Night was chosen to be remade. However, whilst the original Fright Night successfully pulled the vampire genre kicking and screaming from the decaying grave of the Hammer Horror archives into a John Hughes inspired suburban eighties setting, Fright Night attempts to do the same, transferring this ghoul next door suspense thriller to a new generation of horror fanatics, desperate to move away from the modern trend for torture pornos and limp teen fiction inspired interpretations of the genre.

Incredibly aware of its own outlandish premise and joyously farcical set pieces, Fright Night remains a surprisingly indulgent cinematic delight and whilst perhaps not reinventing the genre in any noticeable way, remains a fantastically pleasurable way to spend an evening.

Patrick Gamble