Review: Fright Night (2011)


Fright Night (2011)

Directed by: Craig Gillespie | 120 minutes | horror, comedy | Actors: Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Anton Yelchin, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Toni Collette, Dave Franco, Imogen Poots, Grace Phipps, Reid Ewing, Emily Montague, Sandra Vergara, Chelsea Tavares, Will Denton, Tina Borek, Charlie B. Brown

The 1985 horror film ‘Fright Night’ is not one of the best-known productions from the eighties of the last century. On the contrary, it is a typical, often underestimated genre film that mainly enjoys cult status among a relatively limited, yet loyal and knowledgeable fan base. Especially the customary build-up of tension, the atmosphere that the film breathes, the respect for the various elements of the traditional vampire mythology, the strong dash of humor and the joy of playing played by the actors make the original ‘Fright Night’ such an enjoyable film.

So skepticism was all around when Hollywood decided to give this horror classic a contemporary look as well. But it must be said, the makers of ‘Fright Night’ fortunately do not fall into the same pitfalls as many of their predecessors. That’s mainly because they treat the original source material with respect. Of course, the setting (a suburb of Las Vegas in the middle of the desert) and the characters are somewhat pimped and transformed to the reality of the 21st century. For example, the residential area where the story takes place is well chosen and a plausible place to live for a modern vampire. A place where many people live who work night shifts and lie in their nest during the day. In short, enough available victims for the night hunt and few people who will bother you during the day with visits or difficult questions. What more could you want as a daylight-shy vampire? The story has also been changed at certain points, although many scenes from the original are also reappeared in ‘Fright Night 2011’ in an adapted form. Director Craig Gillespie also succeeds with verve in arousing the combination of tension and humor – so characteristic of the original by Tom Holland – and to get the viewer on the edge of his seat every now and then.

The star of the film is definitely Colin Farrell. With apparent ease, the flamboyant Irishman puts down a memorable movie vampire who doesn’t actually resemble any known leech. Farrell almost literally becomes Jerry, a seemingly charming and humorous, but at the same time icy, indifferent, extremely confident and brutal killing machine. Unlike the sophisticated and art-loving aristocrat Chris Sarandon (who still shows up here in a handsome cameo) portrayed in the original, the modern Jerry is primarily an apple-loving, television-watching blue-collar worker who lives in a largely furniture-free home. The British David Tennant also plays a remarkable role as horror magician Peter Vincent. He goes wild, regularly pushing the boundaries towards the ridiculous, but gives his role just enough cachet and charm not to fly off the track. Only his transformation from arch-cynic to passionate vampire fighter is unbelievably rushed. The same goes a bit for Jerry, who abruptly exchanges his somewhat cautious approach for a totally uncompromising approach. The horror scenes are also not always inventive, while the script also loses some tension in the final phase.

Despite a few minor flaws, the new ‘Fright Night’ has turned out to be a more than decent genre film. The print deviates enough from the sublime predecessor to be able to stand on its own two feet, but retains the successful balance between tension and humor. Finally a remake that survives as a recognizable ode to the original vampire films from bygone days.

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