I think we’ve mentioned this already but it’s pretty clear that today’s Hollywood studio meetings, taking place daily at around 9:00 PST, begin with ‘What can we remake next?’ That one hardworking producer / executive who chimes in with ‘I’ve got this great original screenplay from this guy…’, color that dude unemployed. Today’s remake is 1985’s cult favorite ‘Fright Night’, a movie which improves upon the original in no discernible way that I could perceive.
The Brewster’s of Las Vegas, which include mommy Jane (Toni Collette) and her teenage son Charlie (Anton Yelchin), have a new neighbor. There’s a little concern about this guy considering nobody’s seen him and he has a huge dumpster full of concrete sitting on his front lawn… wondering where all that concrete came from… but when they meet Jerry (Colin Farrell), he seems to be an okay guy. Sure he’s blacked out his windows, and yes you never see him during the daytime, and sure a large portion of this neighborhood are turning up missing… but I’m sure it’s all just a coincidence and has nothing to do with Jerry potentially being a vampire.
But don’t tell Ed that. Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), an uber-geek, used to be Charlie’s best friend before Charlie decided to be cool, have cooler friends and started dating the hottest girl at their high school in Amy (Imogene Poots). I didn’t think one could arbitrarily change themselves from zero to hero in high school, but I guess times have changed. Regardless, Ed has been spying on Jerry and is absolutely convinced that he’s a vampire. He tries to tell his best ex-best friend this, but now Charlie’s a dick and stuff and ain’t trying to hear it.
Now the ex-best friend has joined the ranks of the missing, which does have Charlie a little concerned. Then Jerry shows up at his back door, but doesn’t come in, which heightens Charlie concerns. Then Charlie sees some stuff which has pretty much solidified his newfound belief that his next door neighbor is a vampire. And Jerry knows he knows. And in a minute, mommy Jane and the hot girlfriend will know. It’s a bad situation.
A situation which will require Charlie to seek out the help of this realities version of Criss Angel, noted vampire expert and Vegas showman Peter Vincent (David Tenant) who has all kinds of vampire knowledge, but would rather spend his time drinking and fighting with his girlfriend Ginger, as played by Sandra Vergara. Oh those Vergara sisters…
As it shakes out, Jerry wants everybody dead, on top of the folks he’s already killed… LVPD… worst police department ever… and only Charlie can stop him. One of the things that’s really important in killing this vampire, or any vampire for that matter, is the genuine belief in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, a belief which Charlie seems to have, but the truth of the matter is Charlie needs to get rid of Jerry so he can finally deflower his high school girlfriend. That’s really not a WWJD type situation, know what I’m saying?
In all honesty there’s nothing particularly wrong with this version of ‘Fright Night’… we avoided the 3D version as per usual… but Colin Farrell was fine as Jerry the Vampire, going for a more Brett Favre, working class stud Wrangler Jeans approach to the vampire as opposed to Chris Sarandon’s Brooks Brothers, sophisticated vampire. The decision to make Charlie Brewster ‘cool’ felt disingenuous and forced, but I imagine somebody somewhere thought that young people wouldn’t be able to identify with a geeky hero anymore. I guess. That aside, Anton Yelchin didn’t embarrass himself as Charlie Brewster, even though we never really brought into his character as the reformed geek, cool kid, hottie dater, vampire slayer. The cast is a solid one all around, the effects are fine, some of the story elements are clever, and overall the movie is generally entertaining.
But again, this version of ‘Fright Night’ does very little to improve upon the original ‘Fright Night’ which ultimately makes it cinematically pointless. I’m happy that a lot of actors and technicians and tradesmen got a couple of month’s worth of pay but… you know… what the hell?
The original wasn’t all that scary… but then neither was this one. In the original, it took a while to come to the conclusion that Charlie wasn’t nuts, whereas in this one… he’s Charlie the vampire slayer almost from go. That’s not an improvement. In the original, I thought Peter Vincent, as played by Roddy McDowell, dressed funny. In this one, Peter Vincent dresses funny. The only real improvements were technological ones, like our characters using cell phones and stuff as far as what’s going on in front of the camera, and better special effects and the like for what’s going on behind the camera.
As I mentioned earlier, the movie was entertaining, and seemed to succeed at what it set out to do, but why bother remaking a movie if it’s not going to improve upon the original in any tangible way? That being said, if ‘Fright Night -1985’ didn’t exist… who knows, this might’ve been a mini classic or something. But if ‘Fright Night – 1985’ didn’t exist, then ‘Fright Night – 2011’ would’ve been an original idea which means it wouldn’t have gotten made. And therein lies the tragedy of today’s American cinema.