Fright Night (2011)

Don’t be fooled by the hullabaloo, “Fright Night” 2011 is a mess. And not just a mess but a pretty crummy remake of a movie that is deserving of its classic status. As a remake it switches elements up plot wise and distorts much of the themes of the original film’s narrative, but at the end of the day it’s all just so horribly put together that it’s all just so poorly conceived and eventually becomes incredibly monotonous. Like most modern remakes of classic horror films, this completely misses the point of the original film. But then that’s the point, many will argue. The point of the film is that it misses the point of the original film.

I wish I could argue with that. For instance the inclusion of apples with the character Jerry Dandridge is completely moronic and doesn’t have a reason or logic for being included in the modern Dandridge’s list of idiosyncrasies. The point of the apple in the original was that Dandridge demonstrated his massive jaw power by taking one bite out of an apple and practically consuming the entire piece of fruit. It was a subliminal threat to Charley. In the remake Dandridge just loves apples. He eats them and molests them like the women he bites in to. It becomes a sexual thing that’s completely unnecessary. “Fright Night” completely and utterly lacks in tone and atmosphere and just feels cold and sterile.

The film has an odd blue tint to it that sucks out the life from the story and to top it off the revamped characters are all so unlikable it’s sad. This time Ed is the one who is a horror fanatic by nature and a conspiracy theorists. For reasons never clarified he suspects the new neighbor Jerry Dandridge is a vampire and tries to warn Charley Brewster. To no avail. Charley is a complete and utter douche bag who goes from the character we can sympathize with horror geeks in the audience. Brewster is now an ex-geek struggling to become the popular kid in school, and does so by dating the popular girl Amy and avoiding Ed altogether.

The portrayal of Brewster is absolutely piss poor and Brewster never has a redeeming moment, even when eliciting sympathy for treating Ed like garbage for reasons never quite explained in the script. As for Christopher Mintz Plasse he is once again McLovin’ playing Ed with zero success. And thankfully the character is offed in the first twenty minutes as opposed to the original character’s tragic undoing mid-way through the original, completely losing any and all emotional impact. You can’t feel anything for these characters so when Ed dies, it’s just another body to pile on, and when Charley becomes the hero, it’s a douche bag who is merely acting out of a sense of self-preservation and not intentions of saving other people around him.

Peter Vincent is transformed in to a cowardly slimy worm unworthy of hero status and poor David Tennant is reduced to a poorly conceived uber-hero who never quite gains the momentum and nobility of Roddy McDowall. Anton Yelchin sleepwalks through the role of Brewster delivering a painfully uneven performance while Toni Collette has little to nothing to do but lend indie cred to the picture. The only upside is Colin Farrell who seems to be the only one having fun in the film. As the modern Jerry Dandridge he’s a vicious menacing predator of the sexual and natural variety and he’s obviously juiced up from the original mold. While the original Jerry was ripped out of a romance novel, Farrell’s Dandridge is a modern hipster who thrives on intimidating people and imposing his sexual energy on every single person he meets.

Farrell chews the scenery at every turn with every bit of dialogue delivered with a serpentine hiss and he’s a highlight in an otherwise poor film. That is of course marred by the utterly atrocious CGI vampire model he ultimately transforms in to, which detracts from an otherwise interesting and horrific character. The original film was an ode to classic horror thus Dandridge’s transformation recalled old horror films with a touch of terror to his true form. This Dandridge just looks like a computer game villain. But Farrell thankfully seems to subscribe to the idea that if you’re going to be in a bad movie, at least have fun being in it. And he seems to be having more fun than anyone else in the film.

It’s a shame that “Fright Night” couldn’t have been a commentary on modern horror films as the original film was a throwback to classic horror films. But then again, like modern horror, this remake is cold, sterile, idiotic, and monotonous, so job well done, I guess! All this half baked remake accomplished was making me want to see the original film all over again. While the original is teeming with charm, horror, and old fashioned thrills, “Fright Night” 2011 is just a messy reworking with no grasp on its premise or its concept. Such talent gone to waste yet again.

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