The Review: If you’re about the same age as me, then many of your childhood movie memories are focused around the great movies of the Eighties, such as Ghostbusters, Gremlins and The Goonies, and other movies beginning with the letter G. It would also be around the age that you first became aware of horror movies; straddling somewhere between those classic family movies and the first flushes of horror was Fright Night, and while not a classic it’s fondly remembered by many who then graduated to more serious horror. But while it sank its teeth into the necks of some fondly remembered Eighties names, now the modern fondness for remakes has now also claimed another victim.
Comparisons to the original are inevitable, not least in terms of the cast, who have to compare to the likes of Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowall. In truth, this remake hasn’t skimped in that area, and even the smaller family roles are filled out by familiar names such as Toni Collette and Imogen Poots. Christopher Mintz-Plasse also continues his run of geeky best friends / comedic foils, but the biggest name in the cast is undoubtedly Colin Farrell in the suspected vampire role. (I’m not a fan of spoilers, but frankly if you’re in any doubt whether Farrell turns out to be an actual vampire or not, then you’re probably watching the wrong film.) Farrell relishes the role, and successfully switches from a sleazy charm to a quiet menace effortlessly and fairly owns the bad guy role.
Just like the original, though, this isn’t an out and out horror; there’s not huge amounts of gore or massive scares, but director Craig Gillespie does do a good job of building up the tension at various points. Occasionally the characters make what appear to be massive leaps of logic or behave in slightly unbelievable ways, but that’s mainly due to the slightly knowing tone of the script, and maybe that’s not surprising given writer Marti Noxon’s background on TV, writing for the likes of Buffy and Angel. Consequently she’s not afraid to toss in the odd Twilight reference or other cultural meme, but she and Gillespie do give events plenty of forward momentum and there’s not many in the way of dull moments.
There’s one person I haven’t mentioned yet, though, and that’s the person taking the Roddy McDowall role. Previously, this was a TV host of a vampire show with a cowardly streak when it came to real vampires; as that simply wouldn’t work in this internet age, the role’s been reinvented as a TV magician with a penchant for the dark arts. Oddly cut out of much of the promotional material and not appearing until the half way mark, David Tennant turns up and promptly steals nearly every scene he’s in, his Cockney Criss Angel getting most of the best lines and being generally uncouth and unhelpful at all the right moments. This reinvention of Fright Night won’t go down as a classic, but it’s a lot of fun and should play well to multiplex crowds, whichever night they decide to get their frights on.
Why see it at the cinema: Director Gillespie makes good use of the space he’s got, and there’s plenty of big laughs when Tennant’s on screen and reasonable scares when Farrell’s around.
Why see it in 3D: If you’ve got any sense, don’t. The image is fairly dark for most of the movie, due to being mostly set at night, and there’s been no effort to compensate for this in the 3D image, so the fact you’ll be watching it wearing sunglasses just makes it worse. There’s the odd good 3D moment, but not enough to compensate for not being able to see anything. Stick to 2D on this one.
The Score: 7/10