GENRE: Horror Comedy/Thriller
THE PITCH: An updated version of the original movie of the same name, Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) discovers his new next-door neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. Charley quickly learns he's out of his league to squelch the threat and seeks the help of the renown, Goth supernatural magician, Peter Vincent (David Tennant) to help him defeat his undead foe.
MONEY SHOT: Charley convinces his mother Jane (Toni Collette) and girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots) to trust in the fact that something is just not right with their new neighbor. Jerry now tired of playing with his food, so to speak, forces his prey out into the open and pursues them while they flee. The action and events that unfold during this sequence creates that tense, nail-biting moment you love in good horror film. Sorry can't give any details - its spoiler stuff.
BEST LINE: A now paranoid Charley freaks a bit when he sees his hot neighbor Doris (Emily Montague) goes over to hang out with Jerry. Amy sums up the encounter explaining, "She's a stripper, your neighbor is hot - it was bound to happen."
BODY COUNT: Humans fared well in the film. 10 were "turned", but only 6 were slaughtered. 5 vampires bit the dust - literally.
SKIN FACTOR: Not much, there is a breast scene but that's about it. Everyone remains clothed, scantily at times, for the most part.
GORE INDEX: Moderate. There's blood shed when Jerry attacks his victims. If someone is being fed upon, expect to see a blood trail, if they're being killed - throats get ripped out with a surprising lack of blood splatter.
PREDATORY LENDING: Jerry tries to gain entry in the Brewster household by asking Charley if he can borrow a six-pack of beer. Charley's is wise to his supernatural neighbor now and tests the "no entry without an invite" myth first hand. In the end, Charley loans his neighbor a five-pack instead.
HOMMAGE MOMENTS: You can't have a remake with paying some tribute to its predecessor. Even though the setup and locale is different this time around, fans will catch familiar lines, actors and props from the original. I don't want to give too much away, but the famous "Welcome to Fright Night - For Real," and an updated take on "You're so cool, Brewster" can be heard. A few more lines and moments that mirror the original are throughout the film as well, but you can find those yourself. Happy hunting.
BOTTOM LINE: The original Fright Night was one of those lightning-in-the-bottle films. It had the right composition of plot, comedy, and terror to tell a completely unique horror story. It is the perfect mix of chuckles and screams that make Fright Night resonate as a modern horror gem to most and would seem almost impossible to recapture that same mix of elements to successfully remake it. The original writer and director, Tom Holland tried to do this in the sequel to the film, but failed. But given enough time, like 25 years, I guess lightning can strike the same bottle twice.
The new Fright Night is a slick, faster-paced update of the original that adds a bit of logic and finesse in this franchise reboot. Charley is still the every guy, his best friend, Ed a.k.a. "Evil" (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is still the social misfit and Amy is once again the hot girl you can't believe is into Charley. What works well in the newer version is that everything adds up. You understand why Jerry moves into the neighborhood, you get a better glimpse at the mismatched friendship of Ed and Charley, and more importantly, vampire hunter Peter Vincent, now a Chris Angel-styled magician, warrants the over-the-top build up the movie provides.
The novel and brilliant evolutionary jump forward this movie makes is thanks to Buffy and Mad Men writing alum Marti Noxon. The practical background and voice she gives each character, no matter how miniscule the role allowed director Craig Gillespie just the right timber to craft a horror movie that has more "umph" than your average scary movie and more nail-biting moments than some recent action flicks. Gillespie has been masterfully tinkering with socially awkward plots with big wins with Lars and the Real Girl and the Showtime series, The United States of Tara. His knack for making the unusual plausible yet entertaining fits perfectly into the supernatural scenario that is Fright Night.
Like the original, the mainstay is still this perfect bubble of humor, paranoia, action and gore that keeps you hyped from the opening sequence until the credits roll. Fans of the 1985 version will definitely appreciate the effort taken to encompass all the unique elements the original brought to the horror genre. For those new to Fright Night, expect a full-throttled action comedy that bares fangs as a suspenseful horror movie.
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