Imagine an R-rated version of Disturbia where the lead character doesn’t annoyingly ramble the whole time and the neighbor whom he suspects for being a murderer is a blood-sucking vampire. Basically, that’s what you’re getting with the first half of Fright Night.
Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek) and his mom (Toni Collette, The Sixth Sense) live in a compact suburb surrounded by desert just outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Imagine what the neighborhood from Edward Scissorhands would look like now – the homes conservatively don’t vary in muted colors and because of the bad economy many homes are empty. The home nextdoor to theirs was vacant for a long time, but a handsome and charming graveyard constuction worker just moved in. Jerry is his name and draining the blood from warm bodies is his game.
Little by litte, families from the neighborhood are disappearing. Because move-ins and move-outs occur so frequently, this neighborhood is a perfect feeding ground. Nobody suspects a thing when a family up and moves without warning, making this little township the best place for Jerry (Colin Farrell, Horrible Bosses) to set up camp.
Like everyone else, both Jerry and his mom are oblivious to the truth. It isn’t until one of Charley’s childhood friends goes missing that another friend (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kick-Ass) informs Charley that Jerry killed their missing friend when he got caught investigating Jerry’s home.
Fright Night resembles Disturbia up to this point. Once Jerry is revealed to Charley, Charley must protect his mother and girlfriend (Imogen Poots, 28 Weeks Later). The second half of the movie leaves the expected behind and becomes pure fun.
Unlike following the trend set by Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, Fright Night follows the classic mold of vampires. If Jerry walks into the sunlight, he will burn – not sparkle. There’s no witch-made ring that allow him the convenience of daywalking. Sunlight equals instant death.
Jerry is also unable to enter a home unless he is invite in. The weapons of old – holy water, garlic, crosses and wooden stakes through the heart – are the only things that can bring him down. Because Charley doesn’t have a pack of shirtless GQ werewolves to aid him in killing Jerry, he must do it the old fashioned R-rated way. With a little help from a drunken vampire expert (David Tennant, Dr. Who), Charlie must kill his menacing neighbor to save his cougar mom and hot girlfriend.
One of the best things about Fright Night is its blend of classic cult horror with modern effects and humor. Although you’re watching a brand new film, you feel liked you’ve stepping back into the ’80s – only the presentation of the film itself is far better than it would have been 25 years ago. The best comparison is Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell. Made just a few years ago, Drag Me to Hell has the high-def look and effects from today’s films, yet is still able to feel like Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness. Fright Night feels like a classic horror film, only it looks much better than a classic should.
The 3D presentation of Fright Night is not bad, but because Jerry cannot go out during the day, most of the film takes place either during the night or in dark locations. Wearing darkened 3D glasses during an already dark film is like reading a book in the middle of the night with no lights on. Your eyes strain to see the action on screen. The picture tends to look foggy and hazy, as if shot in a smoke-filled set. The 3D effect itself is not bad, just the dark presentation.
If you enjoyed the original Fright Night and have fun with campy vampire films, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t see the remake this weekend. It’s fun, violent, tense and entertaining, never taking itself seriously and poking fun of Twilight at every opportunity.
Photo credit: Buena Vista