The new “Fright Night” flopped, but it still has teeth

Colin Farrell in the new update of "Fright Night" now playing at an area multiplex near you.
Colin Farrell in "Fright Night"

Colin Farrell in the new update of "Fright Night" now playing at an area multiplex near you.

This last weekend, Craig Gillespie’s stylized “Fright Night” remake (in 3D no less) came in at #5 at the box office, meaning that, yeah, it flopped. It’s too bad because it’s a fun film with plenty of laughs and a great cast.

Although the original “Fright Night” was a modest hit when it was released in August of 1985, it wasn’t until its home video and cable airings that it gained a following, much like many cult films of its ilk.

Also the new “Fright Night” has received favorable critical response – it’s at 74% at Rotten Tomatoes – so over time it’s likely to attract curious film folk who skipped it first time around.

Despite having not seen the original in decades, I think that the remake retains its creepy comic vibe, and may even be funnier to boot.

Anton Yelchin stars in the William Ragsdale role as Charley Brewster (Yelchin played Charlie Barlett in the 2007 film of the same name, so he’s a natural Charlie or Charley it seems), a typical teenager living in a subdivision right outside of Las Vegas who suspects his next door neighbor (Colin Farrell taking on Chris Sarandon’s * character beautifully) is a vampire.

Yelchin’s is helped to this conclusion by his best friend (Christopher Mint Plasse A.K.A McLouvin from “Superbad”), who goes missing like many of his classmates. There’s no ambiguity about the smirking and sleazily charming Farrell’s identity – we know up front that he’s a vampire, so that means the film can get right to chases, fights, and all kinds of blood spurting action sequences.

Dominating the second half is the delightfully sardonic David Tennant (the 10th Doctor Who) in the Roddy McDowell role – this time a Vegas magician, not a has-been actor turned host of a horror TV show.

Toni Collette as Yelchin’s smug mom also helps set the tone, as does Imogen Poots as the updated damsel in distress.

It doesn’t matter that it predictably goes through the paces until its big fiery finish, there’s just the right amusingly spirit to keep one engaged until the final blood splattered credits.

“Fright Night 2011” is  by no means a masterpiece, but then neither was the original. It’s just a more than capable remix of a cult classic for the “Twilight” era.

However, I highly disliked it being a 3D affair. Except for the titles, some mid-air blood droplets, and random shots of arrows and other artillery coming right at you, there’s extremely little that’s enhanced by the Read D 3D. The image looks darker and muddier than I bet it does in 2D too, so there’s that. If you do happen to make it out to the theaters to see it – opt for 2D.

Although, judging from the low gross for the new “Fright Night” so far, it sure doesn’t look like you’ll have long to make that choice.

* Look out for a brief cameo by Sarandon in the middle of the movie.

By Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson is a Raleigh based writer whose work has appeared in the Indpendent, Chapel Hill News, and has been featured many times on the IMDb Hit List. Daniel writes prolifically about the world of pop culture mainly focusing on film.