I got to tell you: this wasn’t easy for me. I loved, I mean LOVED, the original Fright Night. Nostalgia aside, it’s quite the enjoyable horror flick. Rife with teenage angst, smoldering sexual tension, gory blood-sucking violence and plenty of sharp, albeit silly, humor. Not to mention Chris Sarandon, arguably the greatest vampire of the 80s. So when I heard they were doing a remake, I filled with a mix of conflicting emotions. Among them: excitement, anxiety, even dread. That’s right. Dread of that vile, over-the-top, melodramatic rewrite that has ruined the memory of the original for thousands. The fact that Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin were cast in the two lead roles did offer some hope, but still, there are no guarantees.
Now that I’ve seen it (in 3D no less), I feel a weight has been lifted. Not only did it not taint my beloved memory of the 1985 cult classic, it may have even enhanced it. Because they changed enough (by that I mean, a lot) to have originality but kept the best parts of what made the OG work in the first place. It’s funny, creepy, occasionally sexy and, by and large, entertaining. There are some holes, some changes I wasn’t wild about, but overall, I liked it. Yelchin continues to prove he’s an actor to watch (that’s right, Charlie Bartlett, y’all) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse gave the character of Evil Ed an entirely different spin. I admit I found the former Evil Ed a more likable character but it was a relief to see him creatively altered and not just a regurgitated version of the original. Plus, I’m totally in the minority when it comes to the guy Stephen Geoffreys played.
I was most impressed by Colin Farrell’s portrayal of Jerry the vampire. Chris Sarandon rocked this character so wonderfully, so scarily and sexily and with such intensity, and at times so venomously, I had my doubts about Farrell as his replacement. Look, I adored Colin Farrell in In Bruges, but to be a vampire who is intoxicatingly sexy one minute and make-you-crap-your-pants frightening the next? I just wasn’t sold. That is, until I actually sat down and watched it. His Jerry was different, for sure, but it worked. He was at first charming and studly, then creepy and intimidating, then pure, wrathful evil that seemed a force impossible to defeat.
For me, the only real disappointment was David Tennant as Peter Vincent. I loved all the changes to the character and his story and Tennant gave a decent enough performance (though, once or twice, it seemed he tried a little too hard to channel Russell Brand) but the new Vincent just wasn’t the major player he was in the ’85 flick. He came into the film kind of late and his awesome, weapon-riddled apartment played a more vital role than he did. Not a major complaint, just something that could have been better.
The best part (in my opinion) is that watching either the 2011 version or the 1985 original will not in any way spoil the other for anyone interested in seeing both. They’re equally entertaining flicks, each with enough originality to be seen not as different tellings of the same story, but as individual awesome scary movie viewing experiences. Word.