By Tressa Eckerman, Senior Staff Writer
When the original “Fright Night,” came out in the ‘80s, it was a campy, fun, critically-acclaimed vampire next door story that over the years has gotten even campier and gained a rabid cult following.
So when it was announced that there was a remake in the works, there were many angry fans. But this remake has actually done the impossible; it stacks up to the original.
Moving the setting to a small dusty neighborhood just outside Las Vegas, “Fright Night” follows Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin), a nerd at heart who is finally one of the cool kids–due mostly to dating the school’s most popular girl, Amy–living with his mom (Toni Collette) after his father runs off. He’s been ditching his best friend “Evil” Ed, but when kids at their school start to go missing, Ed tells Charlie that he thinks his new neighbor, Jerry, (Colin Farrell) is a vampire.
Jerry isn’t some sparkling Twilight vampire. Farrell plays him the way vampires should be: dark and dangerous. And he only broods when he can’t kill people, not when he can’t sleep with the pretty girl next door wearing a chastity ring. Though he does enjoy “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” he huffs and puffs and has a thing for soccer moms and underage girls.
By the time Charlie seeks help from Peter Vincent (the marvelous David Tennant), a guy liner and leather-pants-wearing Las Vegas illusionist who knows everything about vampires, the action has picked up. It seems Jerry is aware that Charlie knows his true identity. “Either he ends me or I end him,” Charlie tells Peter.
Tennant, best known for playing the tenth incarnation of the Doctor on the classic British show “Doctor Who,” elevates much of the film. The pacing lags toward the end, but only for a few moments and they pass quickly, often replaced by scenes like the dark highway chase that features a cameo by one of the original “Fright Night” actors that had a handful of people in the audience cheering.
This is a movie that pays homage to the original, doing it justice while also creating its own tone. It’s funny and dark, and has its own amount of tongue-in-cheek camp and a few really great references to the original. This version is a lot darker than the original but manages to keep the fun style. Like I said, the film really does belong to Tennant, who shows that he’s more than the Doctor. Yelchin, a brilliant young actor, is charming and genuinely likeable as the put upon Charlie, while Farrell, who plays Jerry with an obvious maniacal glee, gives a great performance. You can see the fun that he had playing this part with such abandon.
Though “Fright Night” is far from perfect, the slow moments are outweighed by funny, often suspenseful ones. This remake more than holds its own against the original, even if it does score a lot of points for not having any sparkling vamps and a leather-clad Doctor.