Fright Night 2011 finds Jerry Dandridge moving in next to Charley Brewster. Charley quickly begins to suspect that something is awry. Charlie witnesses a variety of strange behaviors from his new neighbor and is determined to investigate. When Charley begins to suspect that Jerry is a vampire, no one will believe him except his estranged friend Evil Ed. Charley and Ed soon discover that it’s going to take more than garlic to stay safe from Jerry’s brand of tomfoolery.
Fright Night 2011 often gets a bad rap and that’s not without reason: A film is typically remade to improve upon the original or to showcase a different perspective. The problem with Fright Night 2011 is that it doesn’t do it better than the original and while it takes some creative liberties, none of them improve upon the way the original played out. It’s a bit of an unnecessary remake. However, if one is to take Fright Night 2011 as its own film, rather than comparing it to one of the most beloved horror classics ever made, it does have some merit. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a good movie but I will say that if you can manage to separate it from the original, there are some aspects of the film that are enjoyable.
Part of the failure of Fright Night 2011 fails can be attributed to the studio tapping Craig Gillespie to direct. He doesn’t have a background in horror and clearly didn’t understand what needed to happen for this film to be successful. Also, he is the man responsible for Mr. Woodcock. Marti Noxon’s script didn’t help matters, either. It doesn’t distance the film enough from the original and it is far too predictable.
The film’s effects are a bit of a mixed bag; this reboot relied too heavily on CGI and the FX that are CG are very obviously computer generated. On the plus side, there is an almost obscene amount of blood and there are some creative kill scenes contained within the film.
Christopher Mintz Plasse was a good choice to play Evil Ed in Fright Night 2011. But an even better choice would have been not to try to replicate Evil Ed in the first place. Stephen Geoffreys’ performance in the original Fright Night film is iconic and would have been better left untouched. But if one had to recreate the role, Plasse was probably the best possible choice. Anton Yelchin was a smart pick to play Charlie; he is very reminiscent of William Ragsdale’s Charlie but he did a nice job of making the character appropriate for 2001. Not surprisingly, Toni Collette turns in a likable performance as Charlie’s mom. She’s a talented actress and would be good in almost anything in which she was cast. Colin Farrell was OK as Jerry. He wouldn’t be my first choice, or second, or third to play the role but he wasn’t that bad. The performance that I have an issue with is David Tennant as Peter Vincent. First of all, he was miscast and secondly, the decision to mold the character after a Chris Angel type of personality was a major detriment to the film. Roddy McDowell was so perfect in his embodiment of the character in the original film that it made David Tennant’s performance that much more annoying. The Peter Vincent character in Fright Night (2011) is repugnant and does nothing to enhance the film.
I did really like the fact that Chris Sarandon (who played Jerry in the original Fright Night) had a cameo in Fright Night 2011. It was nice to see tribute being paid to the film’s heritage.
Fright Night 2011 is paced exactly as one would expect. The whole film is ultimately to an epic showdown between Charlie and Jerry. It starts out by laying the groundwork and then slowly intensifies as the film goes on. The whole film is fairly predictable and not necessarily because it’s a remake but more so because it is very formulaic and takes a cookie cutter approach to the screenplay and that results in utter predictability.
The film’s theatrical exhibition was in 3D but the 3D effects look like they were done in post as an afterthought. They are ultimately gimmicky and unnecessary; they serve as somewhat of a distraction.
If you haven’t yet seen Fright Night 2011, you can give it a look. If you go in with low expectations, you may not hate it. Who knows?
Director(s): Craig Gillespie
Writer(s): Marti Noxon, Original story by Tom Holland
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Studio/ Production Co: Touchstone Pictures
Budget: $30 Million
Length: 106 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Vampire Film